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Calderon’s Harvard role shrouded in controversy

January 19, 2013

Over 30,000 people have signed an online petition calling for the University of Harvard to cancel the fellowship of Mexico’s former president Felipe Calderon.

The petition at http://www.change.org cites the “100,000 dead from Calderon’s ill-fated, U.S.-backed war on drugs … another 25,000 people missing … [and] horrendous pending civil rights and murder cases linked to the actions of Calderon’s military and police.”

Calderon earned a master’s degree in public administration at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government in 2000 and will take up a year-long teaching position on January 28.

Poet-turned-activist Javier Sicilia, the leader of Mexico’s Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity, also wrote to Harvard this week, arguing that Calderon’s appointment “does not meet ethical standards of the institution” and “is an insult to the victims of violence in Mexico.”

David Ellwood, the dean of the Kennedy School, defended the decision to offer Calderon a fellowship, affirming that “we recognize that not everyone agreed with his policies or methods, as with all world leaders, but one of the fundamental principles of the Kennedy School and all U.S. universities is the free exchange of ideas.”

The anti-Calderon campaigners aim to gather 125,000 signatures but they will not receive the backing of the Harvard University Mexican Association (HUMAS) which comprises 166 Mexican students, teachers and researchers from the institution. HUMAS said it was “an apolitical organization” and would not be taking action to support or oppose Calderon’s appointment at the university.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 21, 2013 14:51

    Thank you Tequila Files! We are setting up a date for a press conference at or near Harvard. Stay tuned! And yes, we need more signatures on our bi-national petition!

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