Latin America is experiencing a prolonged economic crisis that is eroding its science and technology base. The burden of a $400 billion foreign debt has forced deep cuts in government spending on research and development, and drastically devalued currencies have made it prohibitively expensive for scientists to travel abroad, buy foreign-made equipment, and subscribe to international journals.

We should recognize the United States’ role in this and other Latin American problems. Our banks’ desire for easy profits is partly to blame for the region’s debt crisis. And our society’s insatiable appetite for drugs has fostered the cocaine cartels that corrupt Colombia, Bolivia, and Peru. Will our government’s concern over the federal budget deficit allow the continued deterioration of Latin American science?

An answer to this question will come from Congress’ action on a bill (H.R. 2152) introduced by Rep. Robert A. Roe (D-NJ.), chairman of the House Science, Space, and...

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