The Venezuelan Brain Drain

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary

by Daniel Nardini

The landslide victory of the opposition parties in Venezuela in the National Assembly might signal the end of the revolutionary socialist government that has controlled the country since 1999, when the late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gained power. With any luck, it may also mean that the opposition will be able to undo the disastrous policies of the current President Nicolas Maduro. That remains to be seen as neither Maduro nor the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela will give up power that easily. Who knows, it may force the revolutionary socialist government to declare military rule or it may spark a revolution. One thing is for sure, and that is nothing is for sure now in Venezuela.

One other dilemma that the newly elected National Assembly must deal with is the country’s brain drain. A record number of Venezuela’s universities have lost their professors. The Central University of Venezuela has lost 800 of its 3,000 professors, and Simon Bolivar University has lost 400 of its 1,200 professors. There are a whole list of reasons why so many professors have left—economic instability, food and consumer goods shortages, political violence in the streets, spiraling crime rates, and worst of all for so many professors virtually non-existent salaries. Some professors salaries are as low as U.S. $35 a month! How does anyone live on that even in Venezuela?! Worse, so many of Venezuela’s universities do not have even the basics such as classroom equipment, enough tables and chairs, and up-to-date periodicals.

So on top of almost all of Venezuela’ professors earning virtually nothing, they have little to nothing to use to teach courses. Many of Venezuela’s universities and colleges certainly do not have computers. The Venezuelan Ministry of Education has told the universities and colleges to “make do with what they have and to cut down their expenses.” And what expenses are those? There is virtually nothing left of Venezuela’s academic institutions, and it just shows that the Venezuelan revolutionary socialist government is living in a fantasy world. Hence, even amid an election heavily stacked in favor of the socialist government, the opposition still won in a crushing victory over the government of Maduro. Hopefully, with any luck, the new National Assembly will be able to oust Maduro and the United Socialist Party within the near future. In the meantime, I do not envy the National Assembly trying to solve Venezuela’s problems, including its intellectual brain drain.

Comments are closed.