Mexico’s Deputies Get Richer, Culture and Science Suffer
By KELIN DILLON
After recent adjustments, members of the Mexican Chamber of Deputies will now be allowed to receive more than 234,000 pesos per month in stipends without paying taxes, triple their mensual salary and standing in stark contrast to the funding decrease of the nation’s cultural and scientific sectors.
Some 330 deputies receive paid airplane tickets to travel across the country, increasing from 40,000 to 60,000 pesos on average per month over the last three years, even climbing as high as 80,000 pesos in some cases, while other officials living in close proximity to their jurisdictions receive gas stipends.
According to documents acquired by daily newspaper Reforma, the stipend amount varies arbitrarily per reported week of round-trip travel by each deputy, without any difference in criteria being explained to the Chamber of Deputies’ Administration Committee, leaving room open for potential financial crimes.
Meanwhile, as deputies are handed funding and transport duty-free, Mexico’s Culture and Cinematography Commission (CISAC) and its Science, Technology and Innovation Commission (CTI) have reported cuts to their budget and little support from President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s (AMLO) administration, preventing them from operating at full capacity.
Funding for the CISAC has never reached the same level during AMLO’s term as that of his predecessor, former President Enrique Peña Nieto, leading the organization’s members to now call out López Obrador for his “false campaign promises” to increase cultural projects’ budget during his 2018 presidential run. While the top officials from the CISAC have created plans and proposals to stimulate the sector’s investment and growth, Mexico’s legislative and executive bodies have failed to incorporate the plans into the nation’s budget.
Likewise, major cuts from the government eliminated financial resources to many of the country’s top researchers and scientists, ending some 91 trusts that had been created to stimulate this sector, including 26 of the Public Research Centers (CPI) of the National Council for Science and Technology (Conacyt).
As a new law looking to concentrate all research funding to Conayct has caught major controversy from Mexico’s top academics because it would eliminate independent research labs and the freedom of scientists, the future of Mexico’s scientific community remains in apparent danger, while the federal officials debating on the restrictive legislature’s passage continue to benefit from tax loopholes and free federal funding.