Feb 17, 2013

Former Mexico Diplomat Returns Diploma to Harvard to Protest Calderón's Presence

Proceso: Editors
Translated by Mexico Voices Blog 

Mexico City - Former Ambassador Héctor Vasconcelos returned his degree in Political Science to Harvard University after the institution did not withdraw its invitation to Felipe Calderón.

In a brief letter sent to Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust, the former Consul in Boston and Ambassador to Norway, Denmark and Iceland, stated that Harvard had taught him that its graduates must keep their word.

"Now I must send my diploma back to Harvard. I do this with great sadness, because it is easily the most worthy document that I have had in my life," says the letter from the son of José Vasconcelos, former president of the UNAM [National Autonomous University of Mexico].

On January 15, Vasconcelos wrote a letter to David T. Ellwood, Dean of the John F. Kennedy School of Government, which states that if Calderón remains welcome to begin a scholarship for study at that institution, [Vasconcelos] will find himself in the "painful situation" of returning his academic degree.

Vasconcelos indicated that it would pain him enormously that Harvard, which has been a moral conscience of States for nearly four centuries, a bastion of liberalism and anti-conservatism, today would take in someone who represents the opposite of its traditional values. He warned that if the University has changed its principles or if it no longer has any, he would relinquish his diploma.

In his letter, Vasconcelos charges that Calderón's presidency was imposed by the powers that be and "legalized" by electoral authorities that betrayed their democratic vocation. He also claims that the former president from PAN [National Action Party] represents the religious right and that he violated the secular State by undertaking a devastating war that left more than 90,000 dead, 25,000 missing and tens of thousands displaced. He also pointed out that during the Calderón administration, the number of those in poverty rose from 45.5 to 57 million people.

"For all these reasons I believe that the presence of Calderón at Harvard contradicts the values ​​of representative democracy, critical thinking, and intellectual and personal honesty that the University promotes. I hope that the Kennedy School might reconsider and be sensitive to the feelings of millions of Mexicans," writes Vasconcelos in his letter.

A few days later, the poet Javier Sicilia and the academic [political analyst] Sergio Aguayo sent a letter to the Dean [David T. Ellwood] in which they also question including the former president as a visiting researcher at that institution. In their letter, Sicilia and Aguayo noted that the participation of the former Mexican president is inconsistent with the principles of the John F. Kennedy School of Government, most notably its emphasis on respect for the dignity of others and taking into account the impact of policies on people.

In response, the Dean of the Kennedy School, David Ellwood, defended Calderón's inclusion in the institution because, he explained, it will open opportunities for discussion and debate between the former President and students. ...

On January 28 [former President Felipe Calderón] arrived in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to join the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.

On the www.change.org website, more than 34,300 people signed a petition to reject the inclusion of Calderón at Harvard Univerity. Spanish original

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