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Study collects Bolsonaro's attacks on universities and sciences

Study collects Bolsonaro’s attacks on universities and sciences

São Paulo – Scholars’ freedom, and academic freedom, is at risk in Brazil. “There is more than one at risk, there is a project that materializes in different ways,” says epidemiologist and former dean of the Federal University of Pelotas (OFPL) Pedro Halal. He reports persecution and censorship in viewing studies, which somehow present an unpleasant scenario for President Jair Bolsonaro’s government. In addition, Bolsonaro’s government policy necessitates deep budget cuts, the prevention of democratic dean elections, and other attacks on universities.

In doing so, the entities of scholars and academics began a national survey to standardize the difficulties of this period. scanning in progressIs academic freedom in danger in Brazil?“, with the realization of the Observatory of Knowledge, of the Brazilian Society for the Advancement of Science (SBPC), by Observatório Pesquisa and Ciência e Liberdade and the Center for the Analysis of Freedom and Authoritarianism (Laote).

Entities invite professors and researchers from higher education institutions across the country to voluntarily answer a series of questions on this topic. This survey is part of a joint survey among these entities aimed at assessing potential violations and threats to the exercise of academic freedom and chairs over the past few years. Through violations and threats, we understand the actions and pressures exerted on professors and researchers in the exercise of their academic activities aimed at restricting or restricting the university’s full independence,” they stated in a note.


Pedro Hilal regrets and claims to have been affected by the persecution cases he received from his peers. It is not easy to hear the reports when we are going through the same things. We create strength by listening. Universities’ freedom of democratic choice is undermined. Universities cannot choose their deans. Freedom of finance is not protected by a history of confusing state and government policies. We are even in danger of conducting a census. Imagine that the statistic depends on the goodwill of the government. The census should be independent of any government, for example,” he said, at an event to launch the survey.

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The researcher notes that Bolsonaro’s pursuit of universities and the deconstruction of public policies is not limited to the field of science. Our freedom is suspended even in holding events, whether scientific or cultural. Juveniles are banned from ministries for non-academic criteria. Our freedom is undermined by public freedom of expression, both in academia and in the media. We are limited to the freedom to submit our own research. Our freedom is under attack on the basis of the logic that today’s freedom to disagree is broken.”

Bolsonaro’s government and censorship in universities

In one of the cases that came to light, Hilal was censored for part of a study on the coronavirus during a presentation at the Ministry of Health.Epicovid-2019). There was a press conference at the Ministry of Health where I introduced myself as the project coordinator. I removed from my slides the demonstration of racial and ethnic inequality before COVID-19 in Brazil. Imagine the feeling. Arriving to submit a study and informing the Ministry that it has decided to delete one of the slides. I even thought about canceling. But the judgment was that the population really needed the data and the censorship attempt could not prevail,” he explained.

Finally, the researcher points out the necessity of resisting the logic of attacks imposed by the federal government. The way to counter this is to remember that science, technology, and education need sustainable financing structures that are not vulnerable to the authoritarian outbursts of accidental governments. It’s easy to celebrate Rebecca Andrade’s gold or butantan vaccine. The problem is persuading managers and residents that investment in sports and science should not only happen at the Olympics and during the pandemic. Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays are more important to science than Friday night.”

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In addition to universities, Bolsonaro’s government attacks affect press freedom, among other sectors. This behavior distances young people from the professions related to society, which are in the crosshairs of the president and his followers. “I realized, when choosing for a scientific start here in Santa Catarina, how there has already been a sharp drop in young undergraduates interested in getting scholarships,” says SBPC Director Miriam Grossi, a professor at the Federal University of Santa Catarina (UFSC) .

The coordinator of the Observatory for Research, Science and Freedom, Maria Philomena Gregory, stated that “in recent years, constitutional guarantees in the defense of science have not been respected, nor have they been respected. In recent times the actions of government officials or with their consent have multiplied, threatening the freedom and independence necessary for the production and dissemination of Scientifically-based information and data, directly affecting educators, researchers, journalists, and other social workers.”

search It will ensure the confidentiality and anonymity of sources, and prohibit the disclosure of any personal information. Also, in the questionnaire, there is a space to identify respondents who feel interested in participating in the second phase of the questionnaire, deepening the information collected.