Venezuelan Scientific Achievements Aimed at Social Progress

Yesterday a range of Venezuela’s scientists, innovators, and researchers met in the Institute of Advanced Studies (IDEA) in Caracas to share their most recent projects, including new telescopes, stem cell research, and nutritional innovation, with the public. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez also allocated funding to allow for a pay increase for researchers.

By Tamara Pearson
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Part of the exhibition of scientific achievements yesterday (AVN)
Part of the exhibition of scientific achievements yesterday (AVN)

Mérida, March 7th 2012 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Yesterday a range of Venezuela’s scientists, innovators, and researchers met in the Institute of Advanced Studies (IDEA) in Caracas to share their most recent projects, including new telescopes, stem cell research, and nutritional innovation, with the public. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez also allocated funding to allow for a pay increase for researchers.

A range of Venezuela’s research institutes and government ministers were also present at the exhibition, including the ministers for housing and labour, who hope to link scientific developments with social programs under their competency.

The Centre of Astronomical Research (CIDA), based in Merida state, presented its prototype for a telescope that could be manufactured in Venezuela and used in the country’s universities.

Elias Sanchez, who is involved in the technical coordination of the telescope project, told Venezuelanalysis.com that the telescope is the first prototype developed in Venezuela, and was also developed by Venezuela’s first optical instruments factory, which is part of the state owned CIDA.

“The idea is that all the schools in the country have a telescope and can experience the power that astronomy has to awaken scientific curiosity,” Sanchez said.

“The [optical] factory hopes to develop the first educational microscope as well. This revolution needs many men and women to be makers of useful science,” he concluded.

The minister for food, Carlos Osorio, explained that through the State Investigation Centre for Experimental Agro-industrial Production (CIEPE) the government has been able to develop projects for food production, “interweaving primary materials with food products”.

The CIEPE also conducts detailed food studies, looking at a food’s nutritional benefits, studying native fruits, vegetables, nuts, and fish, as well as ways to best grow food in the country in order to decrease Venezuela’s dependency on food imports.  Among many projects, it has conducted a study on how national primary materials such as sugar cane, rice, corn, and roots can be used to produce biofuels.

The CIEPE also conducts workshops with rural workers. In December it gave a five day class to farmers in Barinas state, teaching them how to prepare balanced diets for the cachama fish, as well as how to process it and to use the leftovers to make fish flour.

At the exhibition, the Venezuelan Institute of Scientific Research (IVIC) presented its project for investigating the use of stem cells for tissue renewal, as well medicinal studies based projects. It is also elaborating drug detection kits and has many more projects in anthropology, biochemistry, ecology, agro-forestry, physics, engineering, experimental medicine, and ocean science, among others.

Vice-president of economic productivity, Ricardo Menendez said that, “only in revolution ...can technological advances be at the service of the people”.

“Finally we’re starting to have our own science and technology system in Venezuela,” President Chavez said, speaking by phone to the scientists, researchers and innovators gathered in the IDEA. He said he was glad to see the many scientific and technological advances “for humane reasons, not for destruction or for capital accumulation”.

Also yesterday President Hugo Chavez approved extra spending of Bs 109 million (US$ 25.3 million) towards the upgrading of the salaries of workers in organisations that fall under the ministry of science and technology, including the IVIC and Venezuela’s Seismic Activity Research Foundation (Funvisis).

The pay adjustment means that 1,154 researchers will be paid according to eight pay levels, depending on their training. A researcher at level one, who has graduated from high school but has obtained extra knowledge, will receive Bs 2,957 (US$ 687) per month, while a level eight research, with a doctorate and more than 16 years experience, will receive a monthly wage of Bs 12,903 (US$ 3000).

The Venezuelan government launched its Science Mission in 2006, with the aim of democratising the sciences and establishing an independent and nationally fostered model of development.