The blindness of the migratory myth

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Deepak Lamba-Nieves / Director de Investigaciones del CNE

Recently, this newspaper published a cover story that revealed alarming data: the Puerto Rican exodus over the past decade, mainly to northern latitudes, has cost the country at least $3,000 million. According to this analysis, conducted by an economist friend, have it not been for so many people leaving, the public debt burden per person would be less severe.

No serious researcher would deny that the temporary departure of certain workers and professionals can promote adverse socio-economic effects in the short term. However, several studies confirm that these migrations will also open up new possibilities to countries that at one point showed leakage of doctors, teachers, engineers and other lawyers.

In a recent unpublished study on the biopharmaceutical industry on the island, María Victoria del Campo-doctoral student at MIT planning and development, highlights the important role played by local engineers in attracting and managing multinational biotech plants. A large number of these were formed intellectually in Mayagüez Campus, have circulated between Puerto Rico and abroad in search of new opportunities for education and professional experience, and thanks to these moves have developed critical skills for industry: transferring knowledge and know solve difficult problems.

More importantly, the study highlights how some of the professionals who worked in local plants under the regime of the 936 and also accumulated experience in the international arena, returned to the island to start or join new companies specializing in process consultancy. These Argonauts islanders are part of teams that sell their technical expertise to numerous companies on the island and elsewhere. In other words, returned from their voyages to generate new knowledge, promote the creation of high paying jobs, and export services. From 2002 to 2007 these professional workshops added over 6,000 skilled workers to the economy and have played an important role in upgrading the technical skills of the manufacturing sector.

In a country where the state has used the migration option to get rid of surplus workers, and is now understood as a kind of escape treacherous, it is unlikely that they can promote initiatives that maximize transnational connections that are forged on the go and come. There is much that can be done, but so far has prevailed foolish alarmism on visionary creativity in public debate and public policy circles. Unfortunately, the old adage applies: "There are none so blind as those who will not see."

The original news story is in Spanish. To read the full text, please click on the "Español" button below or the link at the top right of the page.


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