The bleak reading in “Mexican standoff” (Features, 3 May) does not truly match my own, if limited, experience of working in Mexico since 2012. The National Autonomous University of Mexico is the country’s best institution, with several institutes that host independent research in fundamental science, furthering knowledge and contributing to the education of the next generation. In this, it is supported by federal funding, which recognises science, technology and higher education as a public good. I have not heard anyone locally questioning UNAM’s autonomy, not even when it has become clear that its most recent rector took sides in the political arena against the ruling party. The Center for Research and Advanced Studies (Cinvestav) of the National Polytechnic Institute is not mentioned in the article even though it is the second independent pillar for research in the country. Perhaps this is because there is little to criticise? Mexico would, of course, greatly benefit from investing in its leading institutions and extending their ability to function without political interference. It is no secret that the peripheral universities are struggling to develop according to the needs of the country; again, however, the primary reason is prioritisation and Mexico’s choices about where to invest. By no means is the main problem brain drain, and the fact is that these institutions are growing. International institutions and academics who have received Mexican students will know of their educational strengths and know that these could not have been acquired in a broken system.