Marcha por la Ciencia – Guadalajara, México

Two years ago we witnessed the beginning of the March for Science movement and how the rallies spread rapidly throughout the world. Guadalajara (our town), is not distinguished by its broad scientific culture; few of our museums offer an interesting exhibition of such. Science museums can be counted on with fingers of one hand. Our planetarium (Science Museum) was closed without social outrage and it wasn’t reopen until last year.

The lack of scientific interest in the society had affected the coordination of previous March of Science events and our first March for Science had a very low audience. We were about a dozen people, largely enthusiastic but with scarce social resonance, walking up front “La Minerva” fountain (iconic sculpture of the Roman goddess) pretending to call attention about how fundamental was our cause. Some car drivers sounded the horn in support, but most of them just glanced us in disbelief. Apathy triumphed that year.

It was a painful but educational experience: there was so much work to be done in organizing science events, if we really pretended to change collective perception about the subject.

Two years passed and things started to change for the better. We started joining up together to avoid the traumatic past experience. We marked a clear agenda about how to call attention on our March among the media, picking up a very striking location: Chapultepec Avenue, cultural node of the city.

Currently, just with organizers, we far surpassed the number of assistants of two years ago. This year couple of researchers, artists, scholars and science popularizers are involved. We had visited universities and media to create curiosity and excitement for our cause. We have received a warm response beyond our expectations: these efforts have granted us in our Facebook page over 900 confirmed assistants!

 

Law initiative

The “Consejo Nacional de Ciencia y Tecnología” (Conacyt), our national equivalent to the National Science Foundation of the U.S., committed to promote science research, technology development and to grant advice to the Mexican government on the creation of public policy on science. Conacyt supports and reach consensus of decisions with several non governmental bodies, including the Mexican Science Academy, the National Universities Association and several representations of private endeavors.

Last February, the mexican senate, presented an initiative to change current law of science, this made without consulting the scientific community. One of our concerns is the centralization of decision making process, turning it into a “Government Board” led by the Executive power and state offices, wiping out the involvement of all non governmental participants. In consequence science and tech development decision making process will be only through bureaucrats of the present government administration.

Mexico faces huge challenges. Native corn was originally produced in our country, and all its derivative products are still key components of our alimentation. Scientific community has motivation for improving farm and crop technology, including genetic modified organisms, to secure alimentary necessities of the country.