Dr. Reinaldo Di Polo, a physiologist, and Dr. Gioconda San Blas, a microbiologist, were distinguished scientists at the Centro de Biofisica y Bioquimica (IVIC) in Caracas. IVIC faculty retire after 30 years of service and then take part in the Permanence in Research Activities (PLI) program, a program that has been in place for decades. The PLI program includes 3-year terms that are renewable. The Venezuelan government decided to close down the PLI program. Consequently, some 24-30 scientists at IVIC are in limbo because, once their 3-year term is complete, no renewal will be granted The closing of the PLI program jeopardizes the continuation of scientific careers of the most productive and distinguished scientists in Venezuela.
Dr. Reinaldo Di Polo, a physiologist at IVIC, retired when he was 52 or 54, and has been a part of the PLI program for 10 years. Without warning, he was terminated. The official reason given was that he was not at his desk from 8:30-4:30 working hours. This was a unique case in terms of the abruptness of his termination from the PLI program. Dr. Gioconda San Blas, a renowned microbiologist at IVIC, has been critical of the Venezuelan government. Her 3-year term in the PLI program has just ended and since it has not been renewed, she is now unemployed.
We appealed to the university to reinstate the PLI program for the benefit of science in Venezuela and to reverse the terminations of Drs. Di Polo and San Blas, to renew the PLI program and their participation in it, in accordance with programmatic, rather than political, considerations.