R+D and Innovation, Rectify Now

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Among the many budget cuts that many European countries have been forced to implement due to incredible and intolerable hounding from the markets, Spain’s cuts in scientific research and innovation are obviously the most deplorable and incongruent. 

There were three major areas that should have been shielded at all costs from budget-cutting measures: healthcare, education, and knowledge. But the pressure exerted in the last throes of a system whose total crisis has so greatly affected the West, and especially Europe, has also given rise to budget cuts in those “untouchable” pillars of social welfare. 

In Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States and the Nordic countries… no cuts of funds for R+D and innovation have been made. To the contrary, being aware of the importance of a knowledge and innovation-based economy, certain funds budgeted for those items have actually been increased, particularly those allotted for small and medium-sized enterprises. 

With the election of President Hollande it’s clear that the timeframe for reducing deficits will be relaxed and the possibility of creating incentives will rapidly increase. 


When we observe the Government’s ability to resolve banking disasters such as in the present case of BANKIA, not only for its size, but for its negative effect on Spain’s image, much could likewise be achieved toward promoting and “reclassifying” our country in the European Union by eliminating the restrictions initially imposed on R+D and innovation (largely required to stimulate the economy and create jobs) as well as on those that really reflect citizen welfare: healthcare and education.

15-M, Now More Than Ever

Sunday, May 13, 2012

It will soon have been a year. 

The number of us who are in permanent contact through social networks is constantly growing. We know that now, for the first time in history, we have the capacity to express ourselves freely. The time for silence and submission is over. 

Now, united in cyberspace, we can express our agreement, our protests, and our proposals. Always peacefully, but more and more each time… 

Everyone from the 15-M and Real Democracy Now movements and the “99%”… must join together to make the first anniversary of 15-M an occasion for massive real and virtual demonstrations. 

At last, in the words of the United Nations Charter, “The Peoples” will progressively take the reins of their own destiny. At last we will be able to play our roles on the stages of power. At last, no longer as subjects, but as full citizens. 

On the day we celebrate 15-M, millions of cybernauts writing “Go 15-M!”. And in the following two months, two or three concrete proposals to offer citizens for their consideration, and to seek their support. 

15-M: now more than ever! 

“Affirmative” resistance, now. 

The end of absolute power is at hand!

Hollande and Obama… could be…

Friday, May 11, 2012

Europe requires radical changes in order to overcome the fiasco of the last throes of neoliberal globalization and to inaugurate a new model to facilitate growth, while at the same time avoiding excesses and preventing “bubbles”. 

A system that will take into account the world as a whole and that is aware that the domination and exploitation of the resources of others –some taken by force, as in Iraq and more recently, Libya!- have come to an end. From now on the international cooperation so strongly advocated in the 1960s and 1970s (and then replaced by pure and simple exploitation) must become a reality. 

A systemic crisis requires a systemic solution. An unprecedented situation requires an unprecedented solution, a quote from Maalouf that I like to repeat. 

Let’s look at the global scene: CELAC, which represents the emancipation of Latin America and the beginning of its revival; India; Turkey; Russia… Africa… China… The West –in which the United States has diverged from the European Union’s sole policy of austerity- has suffered the most, because it collaborated the most in instituting globalization and in replacing ethical values for those of the stock markets, in speculating and in de-localizing production, and in developing a war economy of colossal proportions. 

New times –mechanization, robotics, working with computers, longevity…- for a new economic system… and a new life. Too many things have changed for us to continue to rely on “traditional” economic solutions.

To start with, Hollande should “make an about face” with respect to the situation in Europe. And once reelected, Obama should promptly proceed to re-found a democratic multilateral system. 

At the local level, democracy. Democracy at the regional level. Global democracy through a totally renewed United Nations system. As in 1948 when the Universal Declaration of Human Rights illuminated the path to the future, a Universal Declaration of Democracy is now needed to make the transition from force to words and from a culture of violence to a culture of dialogue. 

Perhaps Hollande and Obama will be able to initiate the great changes that the West and many other countries urgently require.

“Matters of State”

Thursday, May 3, 2012

In the last few years unsuccessful attempts have been made to reach agreements concerning education and the ethical principles that should guide the economy… 

The major supra-party goals have been zealously preserved by the majorities, which have seen how policies imposed by the EU –which should never have been accepted in a structured and efficient EU- have disrupted political projects that, as was the case with the “creation of employment”, have been reduced to pure electoral hype. 

Given the “obedience” demanded of EU member states, it would appear urgent to reach agreements in “key” areas in which improvements can be made in management, but in which in no case should there be budget “cuts”. Health, education and science are the maximum expressions of our so-called “welfare” and should conform the generally-agreed matters of all of the parties and social actors. 

This would then consolidate real democracy at the national level and achieve the progressive elimination of the groups of plutocrats (G-8, …G-20) which, seeking to assume global governance (196 countries), have immersed the world in its current chaos. In times of emergency, the only recommendation is to “save what’s essential”. Let’s do that now. There can be no growth without science. There will be no democratic co-existence without educated people, that is, people who are free and responsible, and who make the dignity of all human beings the focal point of their conduct each day. There will be no social peace if the excellent health system we’ve achieved deteriorates. Health is foremost… 

The risk premiums, the fluctuations of the IBEX… all of this is circumstantial. The only thing that could justify raising income tax and VAT would be to preserve this most important part of human dignity and welfare.

“The First Death of Günther Grass?”

That is the title of an article by Bernard Henri Lévy about the German Nobel Prize in literature laureate’s controversial “poem,” which was published in “El País” on April 15. And the subtitle adds that according to Grass “the only serious threat hanging over our heads comes from a tiny country, one of the smallest and most vulnerable in the world, which is also a democracy: the State of Israel”. 

Later he comments upon the real present threats: North Korea, Pakistan, Russia, Syria, Iran, of course… and as was to be expected, he fails to mention the actions taken by his country in Gaza, or the obstruction for over 50 years of a peace process that it must urgently reach with its Palestinian neighbors. 

I’m not going to dwell on the details, but I would nevertheless ask Bernard Henri Lévy not to repeat –because it is an immense lie- that Israel is “a tiny and vulnerable country”, since we all know to what extent it not only enjoys the unquestionable support of the United States, but also that Israel’s power lies in the United States, a large part of whose “great sources of action” are in its hands. 

The solution to the Middle East conflict is crucial to eliminating the shameful inefficiency of the G-7, the G-20, those “wuthering heights” summits all greedily devoted to money, and the anachronistic and impassive mediator “quartets”. I feel great respect and affection for the Palestinian people and the Israeli people. I had the opportunity to facilitate meetings between Yasser Arafat and Shimon Peres. And, above all, to seek solutions with a great Israeli leader, Isaac Rabin. Because he reached agreement, he was assassinated. Like Anwar El Sadat; like Robert and John Kennedy; like Martin Luther King… 

As I have observed in the past, today, on the UNESCO headquarters grounds there is a square with an olive tree, designed by Dani Karavan and dedicated to Rabin: the Square of Tolerance… 

For all of the above, don’t write things that don’t at all reflect the truth. Face reality just as it is, and resolve the problems that arise with courage and imagination, as Isaac Rabin did. And, Mr. Lévy, don’t dare say that your country is “tiny and vulnerable” when it has the strongest bodyguard on earth.

"Eurovegas"? No!

A whole life devoted to education, research, promoting creativity, attracting tourism through our healthcare system, our excellent culture, including our cuisine… a whole life seeking to increase our natural, cultural and intangible heritage, biosphere reserves, UNESCO chairs, associate institutions… 

Proud to be the leading country in organ transplants, the third in biomedicine, one of the best in new materials… 

Have you visited the Center for Genomic Regulation in Barcelona? Or the computer installations at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia? Are you aware of the Autonomous University of Madrid’s (UAM) immense scientific and technical developments, which to a great extent are the result of collaboration between the University and the High Council for Scientific Research (CSIC)? Or the Communications Park in Malaga? Or the Health Sciences Park in Granada?... 

We have spent many, many hours working to achieve a country that is multifaceted, federal, multilingual, plural, serene, and a leader in aid to development and cooperation, rather than in exploitation… We have promoted and participated in peace processes in Latin America and Africa… We have supported universal life-long education throughout the world… 

Proud to be Catalan, I have lived for many years in Madrid and I have loved Andalusia with a passion, and still do. 

I have applauded Spain’s successes in sports and been a conscientious Barça fan since I first went to the “Les Corts” stadium with my father in 1946, although my grandchildren prefer Real Madrid, regardless of who’s the coach… 

After 40 years devoted to biochemistry, after having co-founded the Severo Ochoa Center for Molecular Biology where today over 700 people work… after having implemented the National Plan for the Prevention of Mental Retardation… after having written numerous protests and proposals… after having supported the “outraged” and offered them my collaboration… in summary and like so many others and with so many difficulties, after a lifetime seeking to improve this country, Europe, and to the extent possible, the world… now Spain, instead of continuing to be a reference for human, cultural and democratic quality, may soon become a reference for the waste, luxury and dissipation characteristic of that 1% of the population, which under the generic term “markets” continues to rule the world. But the great financial, energy, media and military domain is on its last leg. The people are starting to find their voices. 

"Eurovegas"? Like trinkets offered as diamonds in moments of hardship, I believe this would be a very serious error.

• The Olympic Games, yes. 
• Offer our country –as some of the Autonomous Communities are doing– as the headquarters for large multilateral institutions, which will shortly replace those disastrous G7, G8, G20 groups of plutocrats… yes. The more, the better. Ocean sciences, yes. Increasingly more efficient renewable energies, yes. New materials –as in the University of Valencia, for example- yes. Transportation via high-speed trains, yes. Adequate water management, yes… 
• Cultural development in aspects in which we are experts, such as cinema, yes. 
• Huge cuts in military spending –such as Obama and Monti have implemented in the last few weeks- yes. 
• New agricultural technologies, yes… 

Macao and Singapore are not Spain. They have never been a part of the world that, despite it all, has offered all mankind creativity, life styles to identify with… and a few good examples. 

"Eurovegas" in Spain? Don’t fall into that trap. For many Spaniards –and for so many others who observe us from abroad- this would mark a historic retreat from the “quality and dignity” that cost this country so much to achieve and is so difficult to maintain.

IMF: Senior Citizens, No

For years we –especially those of us who have devoted our lives to health sciences- have talked of the great advances capable of adding years to our lives, and especially of health in our later years. Longevity was and is the great reference for all of the advances achieved and applied in certain privileged parts of the world. In other parts life expectancy is only half as long! 

Well it now happens that the IMF considers senior citizens a nuisance and that they live too long without contributing, thus having a huge negative impact on the “markets”… 

This is truly an aberration and reflects the ethical, democratic and systemic chaos in which we live. 

What the IMF seems to ignore is that the citizens of the world, and first and foremost senior citizens with stamina, are rapidly going to change a lot of things, perhaps commencing with the IMF, World Bank, the GDPs, large financial consortia… 

We are going to experience fascinating times. The peoples –democracy on a global scale, with a re-founded United Nations- are going to take leadership into their own hands… and smiles (also on the faces of senior citizens) and outstretched hands will once again be the symbols of true progress.

Exploitation, No International Cooperation, Yes

Thank goodness that everything is finally changing. Thank goodness that we will soon see the end of this shameful spectacle in which a few powerful countries appropriate the natural resources of a majority of the others, while even provoking invasions and establishing intolerable systems of oppression in order to do so. 

Calmly observe what Canada is doing, even from an environmental perspective, while extracting natural resources in Latin America and Africa. 

Quietly look at who controls the principal resources –oil, gas, coltan...- in many countries that, moreover, are in situations of incredible hardship. 

See why Iraq and Libya were attacked and who control their immense resources today. 

See why clear and permanent violations of human rights are tolerated in certain countries. See the immense quantities of arms purchases that they make in return... 

Yes. Observe how today the great natural, financial and media resources are concentrated in so few hands... and then you will understand that a new era is commencing in which instead of imposing and protecting privileges, no matter how “legal” they may be, we will have to converse, to contribute funds for our mutual benefit. To engage in dialogue instead of exploiting, to cooperate

Investor rights must be amicably reviewed so that they do not take precedence over the rights of the people... 

The time has come to share and to “re-found” international cooperation, which was a key phrase in the 1950s and 1960s, within the framework of the United Nations. 

A few years ago, when President Evo Morales learned that the semester profits of a single U.S. oil company amounted to over 1 billion dollars, he hit the mark when he observed “and we don’t even have beans on the plates of all Bolivians”. And he then proclaimed with force and conviction, “Partners, yes. But owners, the people”. And President Obama expressed similar sentiments shortly thereafter in Cairo: “We have to understand that the time for hegemony is over and in the future we must advance hand in hand”. 

And that’s the case: with citizen participation facilitated by modern communications technology, we are fortunately commencing a new era of cooperation, understanding, mediation and alliance. An era of disarming armies, and re-arming human beings. The plutocrats will cease their exploitation and, together, democrats will commence a new era of solidarity and international cooperation. 

Everything is changing, including employment, work, security, well-being… This is the time for human rights. And a Universal Declaration of Democracy.