Monday, October 19, 2009

Nicaragua's brain drain

Since alleged election fraud in 2008, aid coming into Nicaragua has been halted. The aid stoppage from the US and the EU coupled with the global recession has caused a crumbling economy.

Instead of trying to struggle within the nation's borders, young people migrate to other nations. Experts say this further causes a drag on the Nicaraguan economy as the youngest and most talented workers leave.

From the IPS, writer José Adán Silva explains why 60 percent of young Nicaraguans say they would leave if they could.

Between 1990 and 2005, more than 800,000 Nicaraguans left the country, and 400,000 more could migrate by 2010, according to the United Nations Development Programme's Human Development Report 2009, devoted this year to the topic of migration. But local projections put that figure even higher.

The report, "Overcoming Barriers: Human Mobility and Development", adds the caveat that its estimates for 2010 of migration for economic reasons are based on long-term trends, and may not exactly predict the effects of unexpected short-term fluctuations like the ongoing global economic crisis.

According to Bayardo Izabá, the head of the non-governmental Nicaraguan Human Rights Centre (CENIDH), the statistics in the UNDP report are an underestimate. Although the report was released this month, it is based on surveys carried out by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) in 2007.

"Over one million people have left the country because of poverty," Ibaza told IPS. "No one leaves the country for any other reason, and there are another million or more young people who want to migrate."

CENIDH publishes an annual report on the general situation in Nicaragua, including the number of people who migrated and those who were deported back to the country.

The Human Development Report indicates that Nicaraguans living abroad represent 13 percent of the country's population, which was 5.5 million in 2007. Nicaragua is ranked 124th out of 182 countries in terms of its human development index, a measure of a country's success in providing citizens with a long, healthy life, education and decent living standards.

Nicaragua has the lowest human development index in Central America and the second lowest in Latin America after Haiti. The UNDP puts the poverty rate in Nicaragua at 48 percent, and extreme poverty at 17 percent.

The head of the non-governmental Permanent Commission on Human Rights, Marcos Carmona, told IPS that people migrate for two main reasons: chronic poverty that was aggravated by the 1979-1990 civil war, and government neglect because the administration's economic policies are focused on meeting financial obligations to multilateral lenders.

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