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Former president of Mexico Felipe Calderon begins fellowship at The Harvard Kennedy School

Posted by Your Town  January 7, 2013 04:53 PM

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Felipe Calderon, the former president of Mexico who launched a military offensive against the Mexican drug cartels, will join The Harvard Kennedy School this month for a yearlong fellowship.

Calderon, who stepped down from presidency this past fall, will serve as the Inaugural Angelopoulos Global Public Leaders Fellow, the Harvard Kennedy School said in a statement.

"I am excited about the chance to return to Harvard Kennedy School once my presidential term comes to an end," Calderon said in the statement. "This Fellowship will be a tremendous opportunity for me to reflect upon my six years in office, to connect with scholars and students at Harvard, and to begin work on the important papers that will document the many challenges that we faced, and the policy positions that we developed during my administration."

As a fellow, Calderon will collaborate with the Harvard Kennedy School Case Program to write case studies on the policy issues he dealt with during his presidency, according to a statement released by the Kennedy School. He will also be required to lecture, meet with students, and work with researchers and scholars, the statement said.

The school praised Calderon for having strengthened the nation’s economy, and for reforming Mexico’s immigration, environmental, and health care policies.

But Calderon’s appointment has sparked some backlash online.

According to Mother Jones, John Randolph, a former US Border patrolman, posted a petition on Change.org for Harvard to “just say no to Mexican drug war President Felipe Calderon.” The petition has garnered nearly 7,500 signatures.

"It's a total disgrace to the families of Mexican citizens who lost their lives because of the drug war," Randolph told Mother Jones.

Elected in 2006, Calderon triggered an offensive against the Mexican drug cartels. According to The New York Times, more than 34,000 Mexicans have been killed since he launched the full-scale military attack.

According to an article by The Dallas Morning News that was published in August, Calderon was speaking to Georgetown University, Standford University, Harvard University, and the University of Texas about possible job opportunities for after his presidency. The article said that Calderon was most likely to join the University of Texas, though a spokesman for the president declined to comment.

Then in late September, The Daily Texan reported that students at the University of Texas and demonstrators from outside the university protested the potential teaching job being offered to Calderon. The protestors burst into a conference where Calderon was present, holding sides written in Spanish that said “We are the Outraged” and “Felipe Calderon: Murderer.”

According to the article, the “demonstrators expressed concern that a teaching position at UT would be a way for the Mexican president to avoid prosecution in Mexico.”

But in the statement released by the Kennedy School, the dean praised Calderon for his efforts in Mexico.

"President Calderon is a vivid example of a dynamic and committed public servant, who took on major challenges in Mexico," David Ellwood, dean of the Kennedy School, said in the statement. "He brings with him experience and knowledge that will inform and inspire Kennedy School students and faculty, and I am thrilled he will be returning to Harvard Kennedy School."

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