The progress of science in Latin American countries has been continuously perturbed by political instability and difficult social and economical conditions. Even countries with a long democratic tradition such as Chile have experienced painful dictatorships in recent years.
The situation of the Chilean universities under the government of General Augusto Pinochet is critical. Thousands of scientists and other specialists, many of them highly trained, have been obliged to leave the country, either because of military repression or because of the profound crisis that affects the economy. University professors and students that favored the policies of the late President Salvador Allende have been subjected to various degrees of repression that include unemployment, expulsion from the country, imprisonment, torture, and even death.