Former Border Patrol Agent Starts Online Petition
RIDGWAY – Despite being snubbed at the gates of Harvard University last week, Ridgway resident and former U.S. Border Patrol agent John Randolph is continuing his fight to remove former Mexican President Felipe Calderón from a Harvard Kennedy School of Government fellowship.
Following an announcement in November from the Kennedy School that the former Mexican president would be moving to Cambridge, Mass. in January to become the school’s inaugural Angelopoulos Global Public Leaders Fellow for a year, Randolph and Eduardo Cortes, a Mexican citizen, started online petitions pressing Harvard President Drew Faust to rethink the appointment. With their online petitions later combined into one at Change.org, the two brought the more than 35,000 signatures to Harvard on Jan. 29 but it had little effect.
“On Tuesday, we went and delivered the petition to Harvard’s Kennedy School staff and they didn’t let us talk to the dean or the president of Harvard,” Randolph said on Friday. “After a couple of hours, we were told that they denied the petitions, which I totally expected.”
The denial hasn’t stopped Randolph and Cortes. The two are upping the ante and are working to gather 100,000 signatures on the petition.
“If we reach that, it will be a symbolic victory if nothing else,” Randolph said. “It stands for one signature for every person who has died from his failed drug war down there.”
In an email to the Cambridge Chronicle, Kennedy School Dean David Elwood said Harvard was standing by its choice.
“We recognize that not everyone agreed with his policies or his approaches, as is the case with all world leaders, but one of the fundamental tenets of the Kennedy School and all American universities is a free exchange of ideas,” Ellwood told the Chronicle. “In keeping with that educational mission, the school has a long and proud tradition of allowing our students the opportunity to engage with world leaders and to ask difficult questions on important public policy issues.”
But to Randolph, honoring the leader who started a violent and “failed” drug war in 2006 that caused thousands of deaths is a slap in the face. Randolph worked as a U.S. Border Patrol agent and faced issues of immigration and drug cartel violence for 26 years. He said he has continued to study the Mexican drug war, especially the war Calderón launched when he took office in 2006, since his retirement in 2005.
“I am appalled at the number of people who have been killed down there as a result of this man’s drug war,” Randolph said. “It has the U.S.’s backing and is the first time Mexico has ever used its military to take on cartels. The results have been horrific.”
Randolph even questions the legitimacy of Calderón’s election.
“It is highly suspected that fraud was involved in getting him elected,” he said. “Then, the first thing he does is start a drug war that is tearing this country apart. The U.S. has been fighting a drug war for over 40 years and it’s not something we are winning. Why start another one we can’t win? Why, halfway through this new drug war, [Calderón] sees the death toll – that people are being slaughtered – and he didn’t stop it?
“Then Harvard makes him a fellow and that is why I started this petition.”
Randolph emphasized that he is not alone in feeling this way as there are over 2,000 comments on the petition’s website, signatures from 28 different countries including Singapore, India, Iran, Columbia, Brazil, and Germany.
The petition can be found online at change.org/justsayno.