Luciana Barbosa de Oliveira Santos, announced this Thursday (22) as Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation in the government of Luiz Ignatius Lula da Silva (PT)is vice-governor of Pernambuco and national president of the PCdoB since 2015.
“It’s an honor! A job that I assume with a lot of commitment and a lot of disposition. After four years of denialism, Science will once again be a priority in this country”, wrote Santos in his Facebook profile after the announcement.
She will replace civil engineer Paulo Alvimselected by the government of Jair Bolsonaro (PL) after leaving Marcos Pontes (PL), and will be the first woman to hold the position effectively. In 2016, lawyer Emília Maria Silva Ribeiro Curi took over the position on an interim basis after Celso Pansera.
As anticipated by Sheet, his name was gaining strength behind the scenes🇧🇷 A former member of the Chamber’s Science and Technology commission, Santos was seen as the most highly regarded candidate for the portfolio and her choice was seen as a way of responding to the PCdoB, which supported Lula during the campaign.
Born in Recife on December 29, 1965, Santos studied electrical engineering at UFPE (Federal University of Pernambuco) and, during graduation, joined the student movement.
She was president of the Academic Directory of Engineering and Computing at UFPE, director of the Central Directory of Students and vice-president of the regional UNE (National Union of Students) in Pernambuco.
In 1992, after completing graduation, Santos ran for councilor of Olinda and achieved her first substitute position. Two years later, she was also an alternate when running for state deputy and, in 1996, took the seat in the Legislative Assembly.
In 1998, she was re-elected as a state deputy and, in 2000, she was elected mayor of Olinda with more than 107,000 votes. In 2004, she was re-elected in the first round, with around 122,000 votes.
From 2009 to 2010, Santos was the State Secretary for Science, Technology and the Environment of Pernambuco, during the administration of Governor Eduardo Campos (PSB)and left the post to seek a vacancy in the Chamber of Deputies.
He had two consecutive terms in Brasília, from 2011 to 2014 and from 2015 to 2018, and presented several proposals, among them the creation of the culture voucher.
More recently, in this year’s election period, Santos claimed the seat of candidate for the Senate for Pernambuco, but had to give up the post to Tereza Leitão (PT-PE).
President of ABC (Brazilian Academy of Sciences), Helena Nader believes in Santos’ ability to manage well. “I was honored to work with her around the time we discussed the new CT&I legal framework and she was very active in that discussion,” she recalls.
Nader points out, however, that the work of rescuing science will be great and will demand the collaboration of new deputies and senators. “The legislation that passed and the cuts that were made had the approval of the National Congress. The Legislature fought against science.”
Appointed as one of the researchers who could assume the position, the president of ABC claims that she did not receive any invitation and that the possibility of the definition falling on people linked to political parties was high.
“I wish Luciana Santos success because he represents the success of Brazil. With the support of the Executive and the Legislative, we have a great chance of succeeding and the Academy will be open to contribute in whatever way possible, supporting it with a critical eye”.
Renato Janine Ribeiro, president of the SBPC (Brazilian Society for the Progress of Science), also highlights Santos’ experience. “He IS a person committed to this subject, a person who knows and is interested”, he assesses. “I hope it is a good indication and makes good management”.
The CEO of Institute burlapHugo Aguilaniu, in turn, sees as positive both Santos’ definition of the MCTI and that of Nisia Trinity to the Ministry of Health. For him, they are two women with technical and political experience to face the current challenges.
“Luciana works in the area of CT&I and has a career in both the Executive and Legislative branches. Nísia, on the other hand, was a fundamental protagonist in the fight against Covid-19, and it will be quite emblematic to have a former president of Fiocruz leading the Ministry of Health after four years of a denialist government that discouraged vaccination and underestimated the pandemic”, he commented in a note.
The final report of the Transition Cabinet lists some of the challenges faced by the future minister, starting with the recomposition and expansion of funding for CT&I, with the full release of resources from the FNDCT (National Fund for Scientific and Technological Development).
“The allocation of these resources should be directed towards structuring and mobilizing national projects, in addition to (and not replacing) the recovery and expansion of the budget of the MCTI and its units
and agencies, especially the own resources of the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq)”, says the text.
The document states that it is necessary to draw up a national ST&I strategy as a long-term State policy and, for that, it is fundamental to rebuild the structure of the ministry. Finally, it emphasizes that it is necessary to resume the dialogue for the definition of public policies in the area and hold a new National Conference on ST&I.
For Nader, being clear that the areas of ST&I and education should be seen as State policies and not government policies is fundamental, but for that it is necessary, in fact, to guarantee the investment.
“A State policy has its financing guaranteed in the Annual Budget Law. So it has to recover the ministry’s budget and the power to invest in the institutes. The FNDCT is for projects. It could be applied, for example, to the creation of an industrial complex of health to reduce our external dependency and on artificial intelligence projects”, he says.
The president of SBPC reinforces this need. He emphasizes that, in recent years, both the FNDCT and the ministry lost resources and what was left of the former’s budget was often used to cover expenses that would fall to the portfolio.
“The community then placed itself against three elements: the cut in the ministry; the bleeding of the FNDCT and its use for current expenses; and the government’s orders because, in recent years, sometimes the government ordered projects of interest to the Fund”, explains.
Finally, he mentions that there is a national ST&I strategy outlined for the period from 2016 to 2022, but it has not been fulfilled and needs to be updated according to current challenges, such as facing hunger and extreme poverty.