Academic stars abroad

Venezuela has plenty of talent. Much of it has chosen to move abroad.

If you’re like me, you probably felt a breath of fresh air to learn Americas Quarterly had chosen two Venezuelans in its list of the top five Latin American academics.

The inclusion of Ricardo Hausmann, the Harvard economist long known to readers of this blog, along with Mónica Ponce de León, dean of Princeton University’s School of Architecture, comes as a timely reminder that Venezuelans can shine when given the opportunities.

The problem with the list is that it highlights a worrying trend: three of the five academics on it have made their impact away from their countries. If Latin Americans – particularly Venezuelans – need to go to other countries to fulfill their potential, then this is a glass half-full, half-empty kind of story.

Think about it – the real good news would be if we learned that people such as Hausmann and Ponce de León were back home, helping to form the future generations of economists and architects Venezuela needs. As it stands, the article serves as a reminder that one of the few things we are exporting … is talent.