mentioned something and included a quotation on this topic for an
example I used in my last reflection, titled "Bush, Health and
Education", which I dedicated to children. In this reflection,
aimed at the first class to graduate from the University of
Information Sciences (UCI), I shall delve more deeply into this
These graduates were the pioneers,
from whom I learned much about the intelligence and the values our
young people can cultivate when they study assiduously. I also
learned much from the excellent staff of professors, a great many
of whom had studied at the José Antonio Echevarría University
Neither can I avoid to mention
the example of the social workers, whose organizational skills and
spirit of sacrifice enriched my knowledge and afforded me new
experiences, nor the thousands of educators who graduated recently,
who made the goal of having one teacher for every 15 students, in
the seventh, eighth and ninth grades of our junior high schools a
reality. All of them began their university studies almost
simultaneously, infused with the ideas which were born and were
applied in the battle to have a 6 year old child who had been
kidnapped returned to his family and homeland, a child for whom we
were willing to give our all.
In two days, 1,334
computer sciences engineers from around the country, whose
exemplary conduct and knowledge earned them university
scholarships, shall graduate from UCI. Of these, 1,134 have been
assigned to different ministries, which provide important services
to our people, and to state agencies which manage crucial economic
resources. A centralized reserve of 200 young and carefully
selected graduates, which shall grow larger every year, awaits
different assignments. This reserve is made up of graduates from
all of the country's provinces who shall stay lodged at UCI
residences. A total of 56 percent are males and 44 percent females.
UCI opens its doors
to young people from Cuba's 169 municipalities. It is not grounded
in the model of exclusion and competition among human beings which
developed capitalist countries advocate.
Our world order
appears to have been designed to foster the egoism, individualism
and dehumanization of humanity.
A Reuters press
dispatch published on May 3, 2006, titled “African brain drain
deprives Africa of vital talent”, reports that, in Africa, "it is
estimated that some 20,000 skilled professionals are leaving the
continent every year, depriving Africa of the doctors, nurses,
teachers and engineers it needs to break a cycle of poverty and
under-development". Reuters adds that "the World Health
Organization (WHO) says that Sub-Saharan Africa bears 24 percent
of the world's global burden of disease including HIV/AIDS,
malaria and tuberculosis. To face that challenge, it has just 3
percent of the world’s health workers”. “In Malawi, only 5 percent
of physicians' posts and 65 percent of nursing vacancies are
filled. In the country of 10 million, one doctor serves 50,000
Quoting a report from
the World Bank, the dispatch reports that, "stymied by conflict,
poverty, lethal diseases and corruption, much of Africa is in no
position to compete with richer countries that promise higher
salaries, better working conditions and political stability”.
“Brain drain deals a
double blow to weak economies, which not only lose their best
human resources and the money spent training them, but then have
to pay an estimated $5.6 billion a year to employ expatriates”.
The phrase “brain
drain” was coined in the 1960s, when the United States began to
hoard UK doctors. In that case, one developed country dispossessed
another; one emerged from the Second World War in 1944 with 80
percent of the world’s gold reserve in bullions, the other had
been severely hit and deprived of its empire in the course of the
A World Bank report titled "International
migration, remittances and the brain drain", made public in
October 2005, yielded the following results:
In the last 40 years,
more than 1.2 million professionals from Latin America and the
Caribbean have emigrated to the United States, Canada and the
United Kingdom. An average of 70 scientists a day has emigrated
from Latin America in the course of 40 years.
Of the 150 million
people around the world involved in science and technology
activities, 90 percent is concentrated in the seven most
A number of countries,
particularly small nations in Africa, the Caribbean and Central
America, have lost over 30 percent of their population with higher
education as a result of migration.
The Caribbean islands,
where nearly all nations are English-speaking, report the world's
highest brain drain. In some of these islands, 8 of every 10
university graduates have left their native countries.
More than 70 percent
of software programmers employed by the US Company Microsoft
Corporation are from India and Latin America.
The intense migratory
movements, from Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union towards
Western Europe and North America, which began following the
collapse of the socialist block, are worthy of special mention.
Labor Organization (ILO) points out that the number of scientists
and engineers who abandon their native countries and emigrate to
industrialized nations is about one third of the number of those
who stay in their native countries, something which significantly
depletes indispensable human resource reserves.
The ILO report
maintains that the migration of students is a precursor of the
brain drain. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and
Development (OECD) reported that, at the beginning of the new
millennium, a bit more than 1.5 million foreign students pursued
higher studies in member states and that, of these, more than half
were from non-OECD countries. Of this total, nearly half a million
studied in the United States, one quarter of a million in the
United Kingdom and nearly 200 thousand in Germany.
Between 1960 and
1990, the United States and Canada received more than one million
professional immigrants and experts from Third World countries.
These figures are but
a pale reflection of the tragedy.
In recent years,
encouraging this type of emigration has become an official state
policy in a number of North countries, which use incentives and
procedures especially tailored to suit this end.
Competitiveness in the 21st Century Act —approved by
the US Congress in 2000— increased the temporary work visa (H-1B)
allotment, from 65 thousand to 115 thousand in the 2000 fiscal
year and then to 195 thousand for fiscal years 2001 through 2003.
The aim of this increase in the visa cap was to encourage the
entry into the United States of highly qualified immigrants who
could occupy positions in the high-technology sector. Though this
figure was reduced to 65 thousand in the 2005 fiscal year, the
flow of professionals towards this country has remained steady.
Similar measures were
promulgated by the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada and Australia.
Since 1990, this last country prioritized the intake of highly
qualified workers, primarily for sectors such as banking,
insurance and the so-called knowledge economy.
In nearly all cases,
the selection criteria are based on the worker's high
qualifications, language proficiency, age, work experience and
professional achievements. The UK program grants extra points to
plundering of brains in South countries dismantles and weakens
programs aimed at training human capital, a resource which is
needed to rise from the depths of underdevelopment. It is not
limited to the transfer of capital; it also entails the import of
grey matter, which nips a country's nascent intelligence and
future at the bud.
Between 1959 and
2004, Cuba has graduated 805,902 professionals, including medical
doctors. The United States' unjust policy towards our country has
deprived us of 5.16 percent of the professionals who graduated
under the Revolution.
However, not even the
elite of immigrant workers enjoy work conditions and salaries like
those of US nationals. In order to avoid the complicated paperwork
which US labor legislation requires and reduce the costs of
immigration procedures, the United States has gone as far as
creating a software ship-factory which keeps highly-qualified
slaves anchored in international waters, in a kind of assembly
plant which produces all manner of digital devices. Project
SeaCode consists of a ship, anchored more than three miles off the
coast of California (international waters), with 600 Indian
computer scientists on board, who work an uninterrupted 12 hour
daily shift for four months out at sea.
The trend towards the
privatization of knowledge and the internalization of scientific
research companies subordinated to big capital has been creating a
kind of "scientific apartheid" which affects the vast majority of
the world's population.
The United States,
Japan and Germany combined have a percentage of the world's
population similar to that of Latin America, but their investment
in research and development is of 52.9 percent, as opposed to 1.3
percent in the latter. Today's economic gap foreshadows what
tomorrow's may be if these trends are not reversed.
That future is
already upon us. The so-called new economy mobilizes immense
capital flows each year. According to a 2006 report published by
Digital Planet, a World Information Technology and Services
Alliance (WITSA) publication, the global Information and
Communications Technology (ICT) market accounted for three
trillion US dollars in 2006.
More and more people
have access to the Internet each day —in July 9, 2007, the figure
was almost 1.4 billion users. However, in many countries,
including numerous developed ones, the people with no access to
this service continue to be the majority. The digital gap spells
dramatic differences, whereby part of humanity, fortunate and
connected, has more information at its disposal than any
generation before it ever had.
To have an idea of
what this means, suffice it two compare two realities: while more
than 70 percent of the population of the United States has access
to the Internet, only 3 percent of Africa's entire population has
such access. Internet service providers are based in high-income
countries, where a mere 16 percent of the world's population lives.
situation our group of countries faces within these global
information networks, the Internet and all modern means used to
transfer information and images must urgently be addressed.
A society in which
millions of human beings are considered superfluous, the brain
drain of South countries constitutes a common practice and
economic power and new technologies are wielded by only a handful
of nations cannot be called human, not by a long shot. Overcoming
this dilemma is as important for the destiny of humanity as
mitigating the climate change crisis which scourges the planet,
two problems which are completely interrelated.
To conclude, I need
Whoever has a
computer has all published knowledge at their disposal and the
privileged memory of the machine belongs to them too.
Ideas are born of
knowledge and ethical values. An important part of the problem
would be technologically solved, another must be cultivated
restlessly. Otherwise, the most basic instincts shall prevail.
The task ahead of UCI
graduates is grandiose. I hope you are able to fulfill it. I am
confident that you will.
Fidel Castro Ruz
July 17, 2007