The Brain down the Drain

by: Christopher Velázquez Meléndez

The “brain drain,” a serious situation affecting the Puerto Rican economy, was the reason to put together a panel on October 17th with sociologist Dr. Michael Gonzalez Cruz, economist Dr. Orlando Sotomayor, both professors at the University of Puerto Rico- Mayagüez and mechanical engineering student Bryan Rullan. This panel which took place at UPRM, put in perspective the reasons, possible solutions and the effects of the brain drain.

“Ninety seven out of 136 chemical engineers that graduated from UPRM two years ago left to the United States leaving an economic impact that I can define as 97 people who won’t spend money in the country, not just being a brain drain but an economic drain also.” said Gonzalez, showing the magnitude of this situation.

Puerto Rico’s grave economic crisis is showing no signs of improvement. According to a news article published by “El Nuevo Día on January 20th 2013” over half a million people have left in the last decade. But, there still are some who wish to stay even though they would have to go through the difficulty of the economic situation, “I’d rather stay and not be one of the people who leave, to be productive and form part of the solution, not the problem,” said Rullan, right after stating that the financial conditions keep deteriorating mostly because the people who can solve it are migrating to more promising states.

Although it seems that the source of this problem is in Puerto Rico and that its youth rather stay in their homeland they have to choose to move somewhere with better chances of economic growth. Sotomayor said, “people have in their minds “if I think I can generate a change, I will stay here. But If I don’t think my voice is being heard I will get out of here and leave,” basing himself on what people are actually doing.

Caribbean Business posted an article on its webpage this September 4th on its webpage about the governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla and his publicity campaign “Isla Estrella” which is supposed to raise the morale and give hope of improving this crisis, highlighting the talent that comes out of the country and how great we can be. But this reached to be nothing more than just an attempt since people keep leaving and apparently, according to various predictions from economists and discussion on the panel, it will continue to happen.

But Sotomayor argues that this problem is not unprecedented. He explained that back in the 1940’s people left the island to the United States in search for jobs in hard labor. This occurrence led to the migration of over half a million workers. Today’s migration however, is different explained Sotomayor. The people leaving are people with education at least a bachelor’s degree which is where the name “brain drain” meets its origin. These well prepared and educated individuals who leave take with them the economic progress that they can generate and could help improve the situation.


Our panelist members on the “brain drain,” (in order of appearance left to right) Brian Rullan, Michael Gonzalez Cruz and Orlando Sotomayor.


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