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Vol. 35 No. 3
May-June 2013

Federación Latinoamericana de Asociaciones Químicas

The Federación Latinoamericana de Asociaciones Químicas (FLAQ) is the representative body for scientific partnerships and/or chemical professionals of the nations of Latin America. Founded in 1959, FLAQ promotes exchanges between higher educational institutions to respond to urgent development responsibilities in Latin America, encourages research and international meetings on chemical problems, generates media coverage of advances in chemistry, and organizes the Latin American Chemistry Congress.

Different types of groups belong to the FLAQ. In some countries, such as Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Chile, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela, it is the Sociedades Químicas, which are of the member organizations. In other countries, it is the Colegios Profesionales de Químicos, as is the case with Costa Rica, El Salvador, Panama, and Puerto Rico. In Argentina and the Dominican Republic it is the Asociación Química that belongs to FLAQ. In Brazil and Colombia, two groups from each country participate: the Sociedade Brasileira de Química and the Asociação Brasileira de Química from Brazil and the Asociación Química Colombiana and the Sociedad Colombiana de Ciencias Químicas from Colombia.

The FLAQ governing bodies are the General Assembly, the Board of Directors, the Executive Secretariat, divisions, and committees, the roles of which are described in the statutes, which can be found at www.flaq1959.org. The board is renewed every two years during the Latin American Chemistry Congress (CLAQ). Each president also serves as chair of the biennial Congress. Because of this, current FLAQ President Cecilia Anaya Berrios, from the Sociedad Química de México, was also chair of the Thirtieth CLAQ, held 27–31 October 2012. The FLAQ also has honorary presidents and a Permanent Council made up of past presidents whose role is to be advisor to the board.

The Executive Secretariat is the governing body responsible for administering, promoting, and developing the institution. It is headquartered in Lima, Peru, leaving the Sociedad Química del Perú responsible for its location. The Executive Secretariat is composed of the Executive Secretary and Treasurer and is appointed by the General Assembly for a period of two years, renewable.

50 Years of FLAQ

In April 2009, the FLAQ celebrated its 50-year anniversary. Although the FLAQ was created in 1959 at the occasion of the 7th Latin American Congress of Chemistry in Mexico City (29 March–3 April 1959), the first South American Chemistry Congress was held in 1924 in Argentina. The second congress was held in Uruguay in 1930, the third in 1937 in Brazil, the fourth in Chile in 1948, and the fifth in Peru in 1951. Starting with the 6th Congress, the name of the event was changed to Congreso Latino Americano de Química (CLAQ). The congresses are now held every two years, and the next CLAQ will be the thirty-first and will take place in October 2014 in Peru. (see www.sqperu.org.pe and http://claq2014.blogspot.com)

The 30 CLAQs held thus far have been true scientific meetings where exchanges and camaraderie among participants took place. The host country for the organization of these congresses is assigned during the General Assembly that takes place during each CLAQ; interested countries must express the reasons why they should host the next congress. Chile and Puerto Rico have organized four times; Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and Peru on three occasions; Costa Rica and Colombia on two occasions, and Ecuador, Cuba, Panama, Santo Domingo, Uruguay, and Venezuela have organized the conference once. A detailed list can be found at the FLAQ portal. The FLAQ is symbolized by the “Lamp of Wisdom,” which is transported from country to country that hosts the CLAQ.

Each country tries its best to outdo the organizers of the previous congress, publicizing the event widely, choosing an intriguing motto, inviting renowned speakers from Latin America and other continents, organizing symposia on various topics, offering refresher courses, and including exhibit halls featuring equipment, laboratory materials, and chemical reagents, and chemical literature. The slogans of the last two congresses have reflected the importance of chemistry to the welfare of humankind: “Chemical Industry and Natural Resources, Global Responsibility” (2010) and “Chemistry, Solutions for Humanity” (2012).

In 2011, FLAQ countries celebrated the International Year of Chemistry with conferences, forums, workshops, experiments for school, and public events such as these.

 

In recent years, FLAQ member countries committed themselves to projects far beyond the scope of the CLAQs. For the first time, one of our countries, Puerto Rico, organized the IUPAC World Chemistry Congress, held in August 2011. The 43rd IUPAC Congress was organized under the leadership of one of our most prominent members, Honorary FLAQ President Dr. Gabriel Infante, and by Vice President Dr. Carlos Tollinche, who is also the FLAQ director. This event was a major undertaking during the 2011 International Year of Chemistry and it saw the participation of seven Nobel laureates and about 2800 participants from around the world (see Nov-Dec 2011 CI, www.iupac.org/publications/ci/2011/3306/4_infante.html).

Another highlight was how our countries celebrated the International Year of Chemistry with conferences, forums, workshops, experiments for school, and public events. One example is the 2011 calendar produced by the Sociedad Química del Peru, the pages of which illustrated and described the importance of chemistry with examples of everyday products. In a similar way, the Forum “Chemistry: Society and Sustainable Development” and the Agenda Química Virtual discussed different issues involving chemistry in simple language accessible to any person. The Brazilian Society of Chemistry organized a series of activities, including “365 Days of Chemistry,” “Chemistry and Art,” and “Where’s Chemistry?: Chemistry is Everywhere,” that engaged hundreds of collaborators from various institutions. Likewise, the Cuban Chemical Society organized conferences and experiments for children and young people.

The FLAQ is symbolized by the "Lamp of Wisdom," which is transported from country to country that hosts the CLAQ.

The online networking event “Women Sharing a Chemical Moment in Time,” a “prequel” to the official launch of the International Year of Chemistry held 18 January 2011 involved female chemists from 44 countries, including a number in Latin America. Worldwide there were close to 100 breakfasts, involving roughly 5000 women chemists. In honor of IYC, Peru issued a unique stamp on 1 August 2011 crammed with chemical imagery representing the multiple links between chemistry and the Peruvian coat of arms. Some FLAQ countries, such as Brazil, were able to secure state support for IYC activities, while others, such as Cuba and Peru, were not.

FLAQ has long-standing and important relationships with IUPAC and the American Chemistry Society. Delegations from both institutions, led by their presidents, have attended recent CLAQs. Both organizations have provided support to our young people, either by organizing fairs and/or festivals during CLAQs or by facilitating the participation of young Latin American chemists in conferences (read more in CCE Projects in Latin America, p. 20).

The FLAQ also participates in the IUPAC Committee CHEMRAWN—Chemical Research Applied to World Needs; current members of that committee include representatives from Puerto Rico, Brazil, and Cuba. The interest of this committee is to find solutions to specific problems affecting the region using the chemical sciences.

Facing the Future

Having celebrated its golden anniversary, and facing the future, FLAQ must position itself as a value for its member organizations. In order to better promote the image and visibility of the chemical sciences, within a regional and global context, we have started a strategic exercise to develop a vision for the future and a platform for the next 50 years of the FLAQ.

FLAQ encourages all chemists, chemical engineers, pharmacists, and other professionals to actively participate in CLAQ 2014, which is being organized by the Sociedad Química del Perú and which will take place in Lima, Peru, 14–17 October 2014.

Olga Lock <flaq_se@yahoo.es> is executive secretary of FLAQ.

www.flaq1959.org


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