• Spain's news in English
 
Spanish Face of the Week
'Spain's brain drain is no empty cliché'
"Mr. Rajoy, I suggest a new euphemism to add to your government's already imaginative repertoire: restless labour.”

'Spain's brain drain is no empty cliché'

Published: 29 Aug 2013 17:29 GMT+02:00

"Dear Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy," begins Moro Martín's letter to the current Spanish Minister as she gears up for a cutting analysis of the current state of affairs of scientific research and development in Spain.

"I wanted to return a few documents I will no longer need."

Moro Martín is preparing to embark on her second professional venture in the US: the first kept her away from Spanish shores for over a decade.

She holds a PhD from Arizona University and worked at Princeton University before being lured back to Spain by the Ramon y Cajal five-year fellowship programme — a scheme which promises researchers generous funding and a tenured position.

"I have highlighted in yellow for you the paragraph that details the explicit commitment to open up a tenured position," Moro Martín tells Rajoy.

"It was this paragraph that prompted me to return after more than a decade in the US."

But the promised position appears to have evaporated now.

Moro Martín adds she will be sending off the documents she received from Rajoy's Popular Party inside a plastic bag as "they are written in soft chalk".

This is not the first time the Madrid-based astrophysicist has put pen to paper in a language not her own to clinically voice her discontent with the PP’s stance on R+D.

"Spain no longer has a ministry of science," Moro Martín wrote in the international science journal Nature in early 2012.

"In the last days of 2011, (Spain's) new government transferred national science policy to the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, a duty for which this ministry seems most unsuited," she wrote in the prestigious journal.

"Science was an unwelcome addition that absorbed more than half of the €1,083-million (US$1,438-million) budget cut imposed on the ministry.

This sends an alarming signal of the sacrifices that science may face when the government releases its budget for 2012 next month."

Martín’s predictions came true as spending at research centres and science faculties dropped to the point where they could no longer afford basic lab gear like gloves and goggles.

Thousands of Spanish scientists have reacted by taking to the streets to protest against what they consider the worst possible move for Spain to raise its head out of the crisis.

In the face of all this widespread condemnation, Finance minister Luis de Guindos has refused to acknowledge that the Spanish government has turned its back on the country’s brightest brains.

But Moro Martín, like every other scientist in Spain, begs to differ.

"Excuse me? You don't know to which problem I am referring?" Moro Martín tells Rajoy in her open letter.

"(I mean) the all-too-real Spanish brain drain, which your government consistently dismisses as just a cliché. I suggest a new euphemism to add to your government's already imaginative repertoire: restless labour."

At a time when Spanish universities and research centres are only allowed to replace one in ten empty positions and when the country’s official science centres (CSIC) have laid off ten percent of their staff in less than two years, Moro Martín's willingness to return to the US seems all too understandable.

"Please let the Spanish Foundation for Science and Technology know that the science I do will no longer be Spanish, nor thanks to Spain; rather I will keep doing science in spite of Spain."

"(Their) goal was to promote the brand of Spain with a programme called 'Spanish Science Abroad', so please tell them not to send the same letter to me at my new job at Nasa."

Alex Dunham (alex.dunham@thelocal.com)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Suarez opens Barca league account
Photo: Josep Lago/AFP

Suarez opens Barca league account

Luis Suarez celebrated Barcelona's final La Liga game of 2014 with his first league goal for the club in their 5-0 win over Cordoba at the Camp Nou on Saturday. READ  

Attack on ruling party HQ targeted 'all politicians'
The area around the head office of Spain's ruling Popular Party in Madrid was off by police after the attack. Photo: George Mills/The Local

Attack on ruling party HQ targeted 'all politicians'

Updated: The man who rammed a car loaded with gas bottles into the headquarters of Spain's ruling Popular Party in Madrid on Friday morning has said any party could have been the target of the attack as "all politicians are the same". READ  

Nine migrants die in Strait of Gibraltar
A would-be migrant to Africa receives assistance from Spain's Red Cross. File photo: Marcos Moreno/AFP

Nine migrants die in Strait of Gibraltar

Moroccan authorities on Friday recovered the bodies of three babies and six adults who died while trying to cross to Spain in a small boat. READ  

Brit wanted for Spain murder caught in UK
Paul John Scott, from Liverpool, was apprehended on Tuesday night when he flew into East Winch Airfield in Norfolk from the Netherlands. Screen grab: Youtube/Steve Ivie /National Crime Agency

Brit wanted for Spain murder caught in UK

A UK man wanted by Spanish police in connection with the Alicante murder of a fellow Brit in April has been arrested while trying to enter the UK in a light aircraft. READ  

Most Catalans say no to independence: new poll
Photo: Lluis Gene/AFP

Most Catalans say no to independence: new poll

For the first time since Catalonia’s independence drive began to pick up momentum in 2012, more people are against independence from Spain than in favour of such a move, a new poll run by the regional government shows. READ  

Man torches warehouse full of African migrants
Police watch on as firefighters battle the warehouse blaze in Barcelona on Tuesday. Photo: Quique García/AFP

Man torches warehouse full of African migrants

Police in Barcelona have arrested a young man who allegedly set fire to a warehouse with 14 African migrants inside after they failed to pay rent on the property. READ  

Gang found drug mules in jobless queues
A queue of people waiting at an employment office in Spain. File picture: Philippe Desmazes/AFP

Gang found drug mules in jobless queues

A gang of Nigerian drugs traffickers has been busted for recruiting mules from Spanish unemployment queues, as well as for trafficking drugs into Japan disguised as sweets. READ  

Rent hikes threaten Spain's unique shops
A hat store in Madrid's Plaza Mayor: shops like this could be affected Spain's current system of rent controls is scrapped at the end of 2014. File photo: j.labradro/Flickr

Rent hikes threaten Spain's unique shops

Around 200,000 people could lose their jobs just after Christmas when Spain scraps its current system of protected rents for small businesses. Critics worry the move could also turn Spain's high streets into bland, chain-store dominated affairs. READ  

80 percent of under 30s still living at home

80 percent of under 30s still living at home

A new report reveals that the idea of flying the nest remains little more than a pipe dream for many young Spaniards. READ  

Spain to get world's only Smurf theme park
Smurfs wear Phrygian caps which symbolize freedom and the pursuit of liberty. Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images North America/AFP

Spain to get world's only Smurf theme park

The Spanish city of Lleida is set to become home to a Smurf theme park, a project that will create 200 jobs in the region. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Nativity donkey squashed by fat fan
Society
Lifting the lid on Spain's mysterious Christmas lottery
National
Why has The Local got a new logo?
What's On
Top 12 things to do in Spain over Christmas
Politics
Spain passes tough new 'anti-protest' law
Business & Money
Google News quits Spain in paid content row
What's On
How to party like a Spaniard: the ultimate guide
Society
Madrid's shocking slum shames Spanish capital
National
Policeman mauled by lions at Barcelona zoo
Business & Money
Uber eyes appeal against Spain ban
Travel
Google offers virtual views of Spain's wonders
Sponsored Article
Top ten gifts for an expat Christmas
Education
Three Spanish business schools makes Europe's top 10
Health
Spain officially free of Ebola: World Health Organization
Travel
Ten Spanish museums you need to know about
National
Can you pass the Spanish citizenship test?
Sponsored Article
Win a €250 voucher for your Christmas list
National
Malaga: mini-tornado causes damage on coast
National
Google Maps 'undeletes' famous Cordoba mosque
National
Riot cops star in Down Syndrome calendar
What's On
What's on in Spain: December 2014
Sponsored Article
Travel & live like a local with Home Exchange
National
'Plane laser' finds Roman gold mines in Spain
National
From the Armada to Orwell: ten great quotes about Spain
National
34 percent of Spain's workers on €645 minimum wage
Sponsored Article
Shop Christmas gifts at Debenhams international store
Society
The Duchess of Alba: eight amazing facts
International
'World's longest railway' links Madrid and China
What's On
What's on in Spain: November 2014
International
MPs call on Spain to recognize Palestine
International
VIDEO: Greenpeace activist injured in Canary Islands oil clash
Education
Spaniards are speaking better English than ever: study
Politics
The Dummies' Guide to Spain's new Podemos Party
National
Ten Spanish dishes to try before you die
Property
Spain's golden visa scheme struggles to take off
National
80 percent of voters say 'yes' to independent Catalonia
Society
Ten things you should never say to a Spaniard
National
Boardgame cashes in on Spain's corruption crisis
Society
Real's Ronaldo world's second richest athlete
National
Priests slam Spain's jacuzzi-loving 'archbishop of bling'
National
Ten shocking corruption cases hurting Spain
National
Seville: Erasmus student dies in selfie fall
Travel
Top ten: brilliant Barcelona restaurants
Society
Dad told to pay child support to 29-year-old daughter
Politics
'We're sorry': Spanish PM apologizes over corruption scandals
Tech
Meet Mr Biceps: Spanish policeman heats up Instagram
National
37 arrested as massive anti-corruption raids rattle Spain
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

597
jobs available
The Local Spain is hiring!
The Local is seeking a new editor for our site in Spain to join our growing team of internationally-minded, driven, ambitious and clued-up journalists.
Details and how to apply