A cartoon by Horacio Altuna published Thursday in the daily strip on the back cover of Clarín in which one of the characters in the comic refers to himself as a "gnocchi" from Conicet caused a stir, confusion and an unusual controversy that involved scientists, researchers and also writers and journalists. Faced with the growing wave of criticism, insults and repudiation of Conicet researchers and militants identified with Kirchnerism, the famous cartoonist had to apologize on social networks.
The controversy gained volume when writers and colleagues of Altuna – among them Sergio Olguín, Hernán Casciari and El Niño Rodríguez – came out to defend the cartoonist and to demand that the right to freedom of expression be respected.
In the strip "It's what there is", which Altuna publishes daily in Clarín, the following dialogue took place between two characters on public roads: "Let's go by taxi, I pay you a dinner," says one of them, and the other responds: "But, do you have a guita? Really." And the protagonist of the strip says: "Sure, I'm a teacher? I'm gnocchi... I'm at Conicet."
It should be noted that the qualifier "gnocchi" is usually associated with those state employees who receive a salary "29 days" without working.
The cartoon in question went viral on the networks when it was published by a biochemist and voices for and against Altuna quickly joined. Many of them insulted the cartoonist. But the unease in several officials and scientists of the state agency became evident. Some treated the cartoonist – one of the most awarded creators in Argentine history, with international recognition for decades – as "ignorant" when they felt offended by the cartoon.
"Yesterday this strip by Horacio Altuna came out in Clarín. I don't know him, I don't know if it's bad milk, ignorance, or both. Suppose it is ignorance. I invite you to spend a week at any Conicet institute to see what it means to do science and teaching in Argentina," researcher and biochemist Rodrigo Quiroga, who gained prominence in social networks when he defended the government's health policy during the pandemic, wrote in his networks – and arrogant it.
Then, the Conicet came out to respond on Twitter to the creator of the famous strip "El Loco Chávez": "In relation to the recent publication of a comic strip on the back cover of @clarincom that refers to the organism, from the CONICET we join the repudiation of this type of valuations and forms of social construction. We are proud of the #CienciaArgentina, of the quality of the work of our scientists and of the commitment of the workers of our institution to contribute this scientific development to the construction of a more just, inclusive, sovereign and violence-free country," he said in his @CONICETDialoga account.
For its part, the Association of State Workers (ATE) also echoed the controversy and questioned the strip.
As a result of this situation, the cartoonist clarified the content and also defended his fictional character, whom he describes as "chanta": "In my strip 'It's what there is', a character, who is a rat, walks with guita and says he has it because 'he is a teacher, gnocchi, from Conicet', it is an ironic enumeration. In another strip he argues that he won it at Merval as a broker. They are incongruities coming and knowing the character, "said the comedian based in Spain on his Twitter account.
"It will be, in any case, a narrative error of mine for which I apologize. I do not think so of the Conicet laburantes, as some interpreted and who also insulted me. I'm also saying it's the first time in 13 years of Twitter, close to 150,000 followers, that someone does it."
"I regret, I repeat, if I was wrong in the narrative. I am also surprised that the offended defenders of Conicet, an institute that I respect and admire, insult me for that. Sorry again. It is the first time in more than 50 years of profession that happens to me, "concluded Altuna