Harvard Slammed For Giving Ex-President Of Mexico, Felipe Calderón, One-Year Fellowship
According to the Kennedy School, the former president “is credited with having boosted the nation’s economic development as a pro-business, pro-free-market leader and having made significant reforms to the country’s environmental, immigration, and health-care policies.” David T. Ellwood, dean of the school, lauded Mr. Calderón as “a vivid example of a dynamic and committed public servant, who took on major challenges in Mexico.”
Such a rosy portrayal is surprising. For one thing, the Kennedy School has made no explicit reference to Calderón’s controversial drug war, which—far more than any of his economic or environmental policies—is likely to remain his primary legacy. The fellowship will provide a relatively safe haven for Mr. Calderón, who is a target of death threats from Mexican narcotics gangs, and vituperation from angry citizens
An estimated 60,000 people died violent deaths during Calderón’s presidency. Mexico’s attorney general has documented 25,000 disappearances during that time. While most of the violence can be attributed to fighting between drug cartels, the Mexican military and police have committed thousands of human rights abuses. A Human Rights Watch report released Nov. 2011 found evidence tying Mexican security forces to more than 170 cases of torture, 39 disappearances, and 24 extrajudicial killings during Calderón’s presidency.
Human rights concerns led retired Border Patrol agent John Randolph to start a petition against Calderón’s appointment on Change.org that had fielded 7,423 signatures by Monday. “I can’t help but think of the Mexican people who have tried to legitimately gain asylum in the United States because of the drug war—and have been turned down,” Randolph told Mother Jones. “How can Calderón waltz in and work for Harvard?”