Sunday, December 5

Conacyt: Gabriela Dutrénit, one of the scientists accused of organized crime by the Prosecutor’s Office: “It’s a crusade against science”


Gabriela Dutrénit during a conference at the Complutense Institute of International Studies.
Gabriela Dutrénit during a conference at the Complutense Institute of International Studies.COURTESY

Two days before the most recent elections in Mexico, on June 4, the researcher Gabriela Dutrénit Bielous (Montevideo, 68 years old) received the first indication that she was being investigated by the Attorney General’s Office. Without further details, representatives of this entity came to his house to verify his address and announce that he would receive a summons. Three months later and through the media, the teacher in Economics from the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) learned that she and 30 other investigators had been accused by the Prosecutor’s Office for alleged acts of organized crime, operations with resources of illicit origin and embezzlement.

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Whoever was the coordinator of the Scientific and Technological Consultative Forum (FFCyT) from 2012 to 2014 still has not come out of her astonishment by what she considers to be “appalling accusations”. However, the investigator trusts that, once again, a federal judge dismissed the requests for arrest warrants against her and about thirty investigators. “I am an academic, I work at the Autonomous Metropolitan University, I dedicate myself to training human resources, training students and doing research, something of that dimension never crossed my mind. An accusation of that type is impressive, ”he says over the phone.

“They spoke of a joint criminal organization between the officials at that time of Conacyt (National Council of Science and Technology) and the officials of the Forum, and I extend it to the board of directors of the Forum because the officials depended on the board of directors, so When you look at it like that, it is a crusade against science because representatives of a board of directors in which the main institutions of this country are present are being attacked, ”he defends. The board of directors of the FFCyT is made up of representatives of the UNAM, the National Polytechnic Institute and the main academies of science and arts in the country.

Despite the rejection of two judges to issue the arrest warrants due to inconsistencies by the Prosecutor’s Office itself in their petitions, the Public Ministry declared on Wednesday afternoon in writing that “the arrest warrant will be requested again, clearly explaining what is considered a patrimonial criminal act attributable to said persons, as well as the evidence that proves it, ”the letter reads.

Dutrénit Bielous knows that the court battle is far from over. The Prosecutor’s Office is targeting the budget of some 244 million pesos that the Consultative Forum received during the previous six-year term. The former coordinator of the civil association categorically rejects any mismanagement of those funds granted by law by Conacyt or duplication of functions, as indicated by the accusation made by the Prosecutor’s Office. “The resources were super-audited. There was an external auditor and afterwards all the financial reports were delivered, which was also audited at Conacyt and then Conacyt delivered a certificate that it was satisfied with the financial report and the technical report ”, he explains.

In addition, it states that the budget for the Forum included travel and per diem expenses for researchers, costs that were always demonstrated by those involved. “The idea was to give participation to the communities so you had to invite the technological community of the States and for that you organized an event somewhere in the country that was within the functions of the Forum and was stipulated within the expenses that corresponded to it. ”, He defends.

The Consultative Forum emerged in 2002 as an autonomous body that sought to give a voice to the scientific communities and the business sector. However, in 2019, with the current Administration, his disagreement with Conacyt began on the issue of resources. As former coordinator of the association. Dutrénit Bielous assures that she lived this institutional disagreement with pain. “I think that when the conflicts started, those conflicts affected the possibility for the communities to express themselves. A civil association is not a private company, it is a different figure ”, he concludes.

The civil association, at that time led by Julia Tagüeña, presented and won the amparo to continue receiving the federal budget, however, a year later the Conacyt decided to change its internal statutes to free itself from the obligation to provide resources to this body. Now the Consultative Forum lives in an impasse due to the lack of resources and the lack of activities commissioned by Conacyt.

On Wednesday night, Conacyt established its position on the process by ensuring that during the fight over the budgets “possible irregularities executed through direct millionaire allocations in favor of the FFCyT from different Conacyt trusts became evident.” As a consequence, adds the highest institution of science in the country, a complaint of facts was presented, without naming any person, before the Public Ministry.

The researcher regrets that it is the director of Conacyt herself, María Elena Álvarez-Buylla, who has filed the complaints against former members of the Forum and former officials of Conacyt from the previous administration. “With this type of accusation, Mexico loses credibility in the scientific community, the scientific community stops believing in the Government, feels threatened, nobody wins and it is a pity because more stability, more trust is also required, in order to be able to dedicate itself to research. ”, Affirms the also professor of the UAM-Xochimilco.

Given the repeated interest of the Prosecutor’s Office in placing this group of scientists in the dock of the accused, more than 600 professors from different institutes, faculties and headquarters of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), Cinvestav, the Ibero-American University and the Autonomous Metropolitan University (UAM), demanded to attend the sentence of the Supreme Court of Justice. In particular, the rector of the UNAM, Enrique Graue, described the accusation of criminal association against members of the academic community as “nonsense” and something “inconceivable”.

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