23/01/04

Brazil names new minister of science

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Eduardo Campos, a 38-year-old economist, has been named as Brazil’s new minister of science and technology.


The appointment of Campos, who appears to have had little previous connection to the scientific community, comes as part of a cabinet reshuffle announced by President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva this week.


The previous minister, the political scientist Roberto Amaral, offered to resign about two weeks ago, following criticism by sectors of the scientific community, and rumours in the national press that he would be dropped as part of the reshuffle (see Brazil’s science minister offers to step down).


Campos is a member of parliament and grandson of Miguel Arraes, the national president of the Brazilian Socialist Party, which chose the minister of science and technology as result of its alliance with Lula’s Worker’s Party.


Most scientists, however, have never heard of him, and therefore have little idea of what his appointment may signify. “We don’t have any information that Campos has any relation with science and technology,” says José Monserrat Filho, editor of Jornal da Ciência, a newsletter produced by the Brazilian Society for the Advancement of Science, the country’s main scientific organisation.


There is, however, some concern that his appointment was determined more by political factors than by his interest in the area that has become his responsibility. Monserrat Filho, says that he will have to work hard to prove that he can run a dynamic administration that will earn the respect of the scientific community.


But he adds that history has shown that ‘political ministers’ for science and technology can still do a good job.  “[Renato] Archer and [Ronaldo] Sardenberg, to mention just two, are [such] ministers that had a recognised success,” he says.