Departing Mexican President Is Headed to Harvard

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Correction Appended

MEXICO CITY -- President Felipe Calderón, who unleashed the military to take on drug traffickers and saw violence spiral out of control during his tenure, will move out of Mexico shortly after leaving office on Saturday.

In January, Mr. Calderón will join the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard as the first Angelopoulos Global Public Leaders fellow, a one-year position created to give high-profile leaders leaving office time to write, lecture and generally share their experiences.

Mr. Calderón, 50, who earned a master's degree in public administration from the Kennedy School in 2000, will focus on "the many policy challenges he encountered while serving as president," the school said in a news release that did not mention his biggest challenge: confronting the drug-trafficking organizations that have terrorized the country and fueled a war that left tens of thousands of people dead during his six years in office.

The school's statement praised other achievements, including his stewardship of the economy, which stabilized after a recession and is now growing faster than the United States'.

Mr. Calderón, who has a wife who has dabbled in politics and three young children, was long expected to leave Mexico, either because of safety considerations or to follow a custom of departing Mexican presidents, who generally do not stay.

"It's a tradition," said Shannon K. O'Neil, senior fellow for Latin America studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, "to give your successor a little bit of space."

Shortly after leaving the presidency in 1994, Carlos Salinas de Gortari, under investigation for a number of crimes at the time, wandered for months, to New York, Montreal and Havana, finally settling in Dublin. He sought to be named the head of the World Trade Organization, but withdrew after his brother was arrested on charges of ordering the assassination of a Mexican politician.

His successor, Ernesto Zedillo, joined Yale University, his alma mater, as director of the Center for the Study of Globalization.

Vicente Fox, Mr. Calderón's immediate predecessor and a fellow member of the National Action Party, remained in Mexico in recent years.

He started a research group and kept his hand in politics, causing a stir last summer when he all but endorsed Enrique Peña Nieto of the rival Institutional Revolutionary Party for president. Mr. Peña Nieto won and takes office on Saturday.

Some analysts contend that security problems in Mexico would make it difficult for Mr. Calderón to stay, despite the government's provision of an extensive security detail for former presidents.

"Calderón is going to pay a high personal cost for having had the courage to take on the cartels, and part of it entails having to be away with his family for some time," said Gabriel Guerra, a political analyst and consultant.

Mr. Calderón's job hunt has brought some controversy.

After The Dallas Morning News reported in August that he was in talks with the University of Texas about a teaching position, students and faculty members started circulating a petition across the country blaming him for the deaths of young people in the drug war and calling on campuses to bar him.

Correction: November 29, 2012, Thursday

This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: An earlier version of this article misspelled the surname of a senior fellow for Latin America studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. She is Shannon K. O'Neil, not O'Neill.

world

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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