In South America, we tend to say Brazil is a giant laying on it’s back. Cultural differences—principally language—tend to push the country away from its closest neighbors. However, the economic crisis affecting both Brazil and Argentina has exposed some sad similarities in Latin America, which may pose a threat to the region’s development. One of the clearest examples of that lies in education. On May 15, the Jair Bolsonaro administration faced its first mass protests after the Ministry of Education froze 30 percent of funding for federal universities. The students’ rage was propelled even further when cabinet minister Abraham Weintraub claimed that university campuses were just a place for “shenanigans.”
In spite of the massive reaction, the budget remains restricted. One of the areas hit hardest is research. According to news website G1, 6,198 scholarships that would have been granted this year have been suspended by Capes, the agency responsible for providing scholarships and funding for Brazilian researchers. The cuts represent BRL 35 million until 2020 and do not affect students who have already earned their grants. However, it is a blow to those who hoped to continue their research in Master’s, Ph.D, or postdoctoral programs.