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Cuba’s Talent Export Strategy

• May 08, 2013 • 7:31 PM

The Hospital de San Felipe in Havana (in 1900). (DRAWING: PUBLIC DOMAIN)

The latest arrangement for Cuban medical internationalism—with Brazil—supports the idea that talent is the new hot commodity.

Brain drain is economic development. Exporting talent is a smart strategy. The return on investment for Cuba:

So what might Cuba’s latest foray into medical diplomacy entail? In return for physicians and other health workers, Brazil is expected to fund infrastructure projects in Cuba and direct a $176 million loan toward Cuban airports. Cuban medical personnel, meanwhile, will fan out to rural areas of Brazil that are typically underserved by doctors.

Reciprocity. Rural Brazil gets doctors. Cuba gets airports. Talent is the new oil.

Really, talent is the new gasoline or diesel fuel. People are the raw material, refined through education. Better to export a value added product than be a banana republic. One big difference: the migrant, the talent export, also benefits. Migration is economic development.

Jim Russell
Jim Russell is a geographer studying the relationship between migration and economic development.

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