In Oaxaca, Harvard Comes to
the Rescue – of Capitalism

April 1, 2007

by G.S.  <>

this page is at

      There are four main sections that make up this posting:
1. An article I wrote about a surprise (to me) visit to Oaxaca by Manuel Stefanakis of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. The article is critical of the social role of Harvard University, and, unjustly, of Mr. Stefanakis as well.
2. This section contains: first, a note I wrote to Mr. Stefanakis, about whom I knew nothing first-hand, asking if he would be willing to provide information, and second, his very courteous and affirmative reply, which challenged my "assumptions, accusations and misinformation."
3. The first part of my reply, which begins, "I believe I was unfair to you in my article, and I want to apologize for the errors, both of judgment and fact, that it contained", and included my commitment to "make the corrections public."
4. The second part of my reply consists of criticisms and comments I received from correspondents, and a great deal of information about Harvard's institutional relationship, through endowment funding, with war industry, thanks to the investigations of Brad Bellows. However, none of this information cast the least shadow on Mr. Stefanakis. My letter concluded,
     "I want to assure you, Mr. Stefanakis, that it was wrong of me to make critical assumptions about you as an individual without first contacting you and seeking more information than was readily available to me. I assumed ‘guilt by association’, an old and discredited practice. If you do come to Oaxaca again, I would welcome the chance to meet you."

     In my original article, which follows immediately, I inserted flags (!!) to indicate an arguable assumption or accusation, or alleged misinformation. I hope these uncertainties will be resolved through further correspondence with Mr. Stefanakis.

1. A tenacious struggle in this southern Mexican city, capital of impoverished Oaxaca State, erupted just over ten months ago. It is powered by the long-oppressed indigenous majority of the state, about two-thirds of the 3.5 to 4 million inhabitants. Two attempts to crush it, first by the state government and then by both the state and Mexican federal governments, have failed. This civil insurrection, really a revolution, is unique both in its commitment to aggressive, militant non-violent struggle and in the amazingly low casualties until now. I believe it will be of greater historical significance in human social evolution than even the great French Revolution, because it is aiming not to gain governmental power but to change the form of governing human social relations to a non-hierarchical society that functions without centralized power, without the machinery of coercion. The true nature of the struggle remains largely hidden from the outside world, deliberately. Harvard's involvement points to its significance.

      Harvard contributes to reconstructing Oaxaca is the grand headline splashed across the Sunday, March 25, 2007 front page of NOTICIAS VOZ E IMAGEN DE OAXACA (NEWS VOICE AND IMAGES OF OAXACA), the major daily newspaper published in Oaxaca City. When I saw that announcement this morning I thought, “Oh, my God! That’s both good news and bad news.” The good news is that the popular struggle in Oaxaca is serious enough that it is being seen by those pre-eminent intellectual guardians of global capitalism as a potential threat to the status quo. The bad news is that Harvard University, always in the service of the super-rich, and therefore in step with (or ahead of) U.S. government plans and actions, is preparing to put its gloved but dirtied hands to work for the PAN/PRI [1] government of Felipe Calderon and the local PRI governor, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz.

      The message is clear. It’s going to take more than sheer military suppression to crush the popular revolution. But it must be crushed, in the interest of global capitalism, and therefore the ‘intellectual power’ of Harvard University will be brought to bear in addition to the military state of siege already put in place in the city. What we can be certain of is that Harvard’s intellectual prowess will not be used to uncover the fates of the people disappeared by the Federal and State armed agents and still unaccounted for, or to assist the people of Oaxaca in their struggle for justice and dignity.

      Beneath the headline is a picture of Manuel Stefanakis here in Oaxaca. He is currently Director of the Master of Public Administration (MPA) Degree Programs in the John F. Kennedy School of Government of Harvard University. His background in humanitarian work and the elimination of torture can be seen in a publicity statement advertising a dinner (at 50€ a person) back in April 2005 at the Harvard Club of Greece, where, as the President of the Thessalonica Agricultural and Industrial Institute, he was the invited speaker. His subject was “The Challenge of Sustainable Development: What is Next for Greek Agriculture?” The announcement said, “His career encompasses 30 years of senior level management and development experience with governments, international agencies, and financial institutions, Fortune 500 companies, and universities in more than 40 countries; and he has worked for extended periods in Greece, the Czech Republic and Bahrain ... Before assuming his position in Thessaloniki, Mr. Stefanakis served for five years on the senior administrative team of his alma mater, the John F. Kennedy School of Government (KSG) at Harvard.” [2] (!!)

      It is unclear whether Mr. Stefanakis knows anything about agriculture.(!!) It is also unclear whether he was on the ‘senior administrative team’ of KSG during the period when this august institution awarded Guatemalan General Hector Alejandro Gramajo Morales a Mason fellowship to study at the KSG, and then, in 1991, awarded him a Masters Degree in Public Administration.[3] (!!) What is unambiguously clear however is that the Harvard Corporation’s values and priorities are of course shared by Mr. Stefanakis, who hesitates not a moment in supporting the most unsavory of regimes if they serve U.S. economic hegemony.[4] (!!) As did General Gramajo, a high-volume mass murderer who makes Governor Ulises look like an amateur. It’s revealing to read about Gramajo’s service to Guatemala. The following is a short excerpt from an article by John Trumpbour, who wrote it when he was a teaching fellow at the Department of History, Harvard University.[5] Written in the Fall of 1991, Trumpbour says:

      In April 1990, protesters against the militarization of the university ... staged a peaceful sit-in at the KSG. Program director Bernard E. Trainor, a former New York Times correspondent and Marine general, issued a formal statement denouncing the demonstrators as "fascistic." Apparently joining the ongoing neoconservative campaign against the so-called totalitarianism of the PC (politically correct), Trainor employed the Orwellian jujitsu turnaround that today renders the peace movement as a latter day version of Mussolini's goosestepping blackshirts.

Polishing the General

      Meanwhile, [Derek] Bok [then President of the University] had enunciated Harvard's goal of becoming a center for training future global leaders. An early beneficiary of this putative internationalism is Guatemalan General Hector Alejandro Gramajo Morales ... Gramajo was General Lucas Garcia's minister counselor for political affairs in Washington in 1980-81. Under this regime, "the death squads were running wild, killing an estimated 25,000 people," according to journalist Michael Massing. "Gramajo defended his regime to the end." When General Efrain Rios Montt came to power in a March 1982 coup, Gramajo transferred his loyalty and took charge of a "pacification" campaign against Indians in Guatemala's western highlands modeled on the strategic hamlets the U.S. installed in Vietnam. In one massacre alone, soldiers hacked with machetes and smashed in the heads of over 300 unarmed civilians, including old people, children, and infants. "Gramajo acted ruthlessly," concludes Fernando Andrade Diaz-Duran, foreign minister under Rios Montt's successor. "Villages were bombed, and a lot of civilians got killed." The Washington Office on Latin America estimates between 50,000 and 75,000 peasants were killed while even the army puts the number at 10,000 dead. In November 1989, a U.S. nun, Diana Ortiz was captured, tortured, and sexually molested by Guatemalan security forces. Gramajo responded that her story was a fabrication, a futile attempt to cover up a lesbian love affair. Americas Watch termed Gramajo's allegation a "pure invention." In an interview with the Harvard International Review, Gramajo explained his commitment to military reform and human rights:

We aren't renouncing the use of force. If we have to use it, we have to use it, but in a more sophisticated manner. You needn't kill everyone to complete the job. [You can use] more sophisticated means; we aren't going to return to the large-scale massacres. We have created a more humanitarian, less costly strategy, to be more compatible with the democratic system. We instituted Civil Affairs [in 1982] which provides development for 70 percent of the people while we kill 30 percent. Before the strategy was to kill 100 percent.

      When the Harvard Crimson [6] asked if these statements accurately represented his views, he retreated, suggesting that the transcript reflected a certain lack of linguistic dexterity, his characteristic use of "broken English." "I really did not mean exactly 'kill,'" but rather that soldiers cannot "renounce coercive action" and that the military is now "going to make a very clear distinction between [civilians and insurgents]." During his tenure as Guatemalan minister of defense from 1987 to 1990, Gramajo oversaw a military accused of butchering dozens of university students, provoking Anne Manuel of Americas Watch to find "a sort of tragic irony" in Harvard's ardor for educating him. Gramajo is believed to have chosen to come to Harvard as part of his plan to run for Guatemala's presidency in 1995. And Harvard, as U.S. Representative Chester Atkins (D-MA) observed, appears to be in the business of "laundering reputations."

      Once again, it’s important to keep in mind that deliberate American planning for the use of force, with absolute disregard for (hopefully not just historically ephemeral notions such as) ‘human rights’ goes back to shortly after World War II. As part of his assessment which, although concerning Asia at that time, is the same in principle everywhere, George F. Kennan, then Chief of the US State Department Policy Planning Staff, stated in Document PPS23, 24 February 1948: [7]

...[W]e have about 50 per cent of the world’s wealth but only 6.3 per cent of its population ... In this situation we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity ... We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world benefaction ... We should cease to talk about vague and ... unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of living standards, and democratisation. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.

      Although the war of repression in Oaxaca has thus far resulted in many fewer deaths and much less destruction by firepower than the Guatemalan government’s repression, the difference is due to different historical circumstances and tactical changes in terrorizing and traumatizing a population, but the goal and ruthlessness are identical. Thus when Mr. Stefanakis said yesterday, according to Noticias, that various members of the academic body of Harvard had been involved in similar processes in Latin America, it is clear that he’s talking about transnational investments, privatizing the infrastructure, and enabling U.S.-based corporations to glean profits from the exploitation of Oaxacan natural resources and cheap labor, without regard for the desires of the Oaxacan peoples, and not in promoting their human rights and securing dignified lives for them.[8] (!!) He’s here to push the neo-liberal program.

      Mr. Stefanakis is reported to have said that Harvard University followed the development of the sociopolitical movement of 2006, and consequently accepted the invitation of the Special Commission for the Reform of Oaxaca State (CEREO in its Spanish initials). He came, he said, to listen to all the voices and to implement and integrate proposals for the process of reconstruction of the public administration in its relation to the society. In brief, he came in the name of Harvard, at the invitation of the Ulises Ruiz Ortiz government, or Felipe Calderon’s Federal Government, to offer Harvard’s services TO THE GOVERNMENT. You can bet he’s not going to speak with the political prisoners, with rank and file teachers in Local 22 of the National Educational Workers Union, with the groups aligned with the APPO (the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca), with the inhabitants of the indigenous communities all over the state, where ninety percent of the Oaxacan peoples live outside the capital city, or with the human rights workers and others still threatened by outstanding arrest warrants by the lawless state and federal governments.[9] (!!)

      When Harvard comes to ‘help’, beware! DANGER!

—G.S.    <>
Oaxaca City, Oaxaca, Mexico 25 March 2007


[1] PAN/PRI. The two major right-wing political parties in Mexico are the National Action Party (Partido Acción Nacionál, PAN) and the Institutional Revolutionary Party (Partido Revolucionario Institucional, PRI). The current and previous federal presidents are in the PAN. Before that, for seventy or so years, the PRI held the presidency.

[2] Manuel Stefanakis. The statement, “His background in humanitarian work and the elimination of torture can be seen . . .” was meant sarcastically, because there's nothing in the information given about his backgrouns that indicates the slightest experience in either humanitarian work or the elimination of torture. For additional information on his experience, see for example .

[3] Mr. Stefanakis states, “. . . my history with the Kennedy School began in 1991 when I entered the MPA program. Following my graduation in 1992 . . .” General Gramajo received his masters degree from the KSG in 1991. It is thus clear that Mr. Stefanakis was not on the ‘senior administrative team’ of KSG when it awarded Gramajo a degree.

[4] This statement was based on my assumption that as a member of the ‘senior administrative team’ of the KSG he shares the Harvard Corporation’s values and that his trip to Oaxaca was for the purpose of supporting the neo-liberal governments’ (federal and state) need to crush the rebellion because, as I argued in a previous essay, if Oaxaca broke out of the grip of global capitalism, it would threaten the entire global system. That thesis is argued in the essay at . In supporting the Ulises Ruiz Ortiz regime in Osaxaca, I saw Mr. Stefanakis coming to support an openly fascist government, and I assumed he knew what he was doing.

[5] John Trumpbour’s entire article is availabel at . Titled, Harvard in Service to the National Security State, it was published in Covert Action Information Bulletin, Fall 1991, pp. 12-16.

[6] The Harvard Crimson is the school newspaper, which I think publishes almost daily. It is referred to locally simply as the Crimson.

[7] George F. Kennan. The complete statement prepared by Kennan is available at . Criticism of the use of the 'quote' by Gilles d’Aymery is at . d’Amery points out that the 'quote' consists of excerpts from the much longer statement, and that George Kennan’s concern in this statement was Asia.

[8] My assumption was that he saw himself as continuing the involvement of previous Harvard academics in similar processes in Latin America, and that this meant, in the present context, privatization, etc., the neo-liberal program. I hope he will clarify precisely what he meant.

[9] I assumed that the report in Noticias was essentially correct. This is something I should check, initially by asking Mr. Stefanakis whether Noticias accurately reported what he had said. I have already asked him six specific questions about his invitation, but have not as yet had a reply. The last sentence of the paragraph simply enumerates ‘all the voices’ to which one must listen for an understanding of the reality of the conflict here, and expresses my certainty that Mr. Stefanakis would not do so. I assumed that he could not accomplish that, certainly not in the brief time I assumed was available to him on his visit.

2. My note to Manuel Stefanakis, his reply

From: George Salzman <>
Date: Thu, 05 Apr 2007 14:49:05 -0500
To: Manuel Stefanakis <>
CC: Brad Bellows <>, Jim Kaiserski <>

Oaxaca, Thursday 5 April 2007
Dear Mr. Stefanakis,
      ... I am very interested in your visit, on behalf of the Kennedy School of Government (KSG), to Oaxaca some days ago. An article I wrote, and submitted for publication to the Boston Globe, has received attention on the internet ... My knowledge about you and your visit here came only from the Noticias report on 25 March, and a bit of searching on the internet. I haven't been aware of anything else in the local press.
      I am in the process of preparing a slightly extended discussion on the role of Harvard that will include my submission to the Globe (below) and a good deal of factual information that Brad Bellows has researched and kindly sent me. The purpose of this note is to ask whether you are willing to answer a few specific questions about your visit here. If so, I will be able to include the additional information, which I will do exactly as given me, with nothing omitted or altered. If you answer affirmatively, I'll formulate a few concise questions and write back. Thank you.

Mr. Stefanakis’ reply

Date: Fri, 6 Apr 2007 15:10:35 -0400

I appreciate your contacting me about my visit to Oaxaca and for giving me the opportunity to respond to your questions. I must admit I was startled by the assumptions, accusations and misinformation in your blog. There are two parts to your story – my involvement in Oaxaca and the larger history of Harvard University’s involvement in Latin America. I am very eager to clarify my role. I certainly don’t know enough about the latter to be of any use, although I am happy to forward your questions to people more knowledgeable than I.

Let me first try to clarify what I fear is a misunderstanding of who I am and what role I play. My title is Director of Master in Public Administration Programs at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. This is largely an administrative position that oversees the non-academic side of the 350 students earning master𔄩s degrees at the Kennedy School. About 200 are in the mid-career program with an average of 14 years experience and the rest are in a two-year master’s program with an average of four years experience. I have held this position since July 2006. For the record, I am not a professor or member of the faculty at Harvard (although I had been a visiting professor at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and have provided professional development training elsewhere); I am not a PhD; and I have no research role or agenda at Harvard.

I do look for opportunities to engage my students in public policy issues through research projects, internships, practical exercises and case studies. That was my main purpose in visiting Oaxaca. We have students from over 80 countries, many of whom have worked in human rights, humanitarian assistance, governance, etc. I met Daniel Perez, the newly appointed director of the Commission for State Government Reform several years ago when I was recruiting MPA candidates in Mexico. We have stayed in touch over the years, and when he called me to tell me of his recent appointment to the commission, I thought it might be a great opportunity for our students to engage in a very important civil society initiative after the traumatic events in Oaxaca over the past couple of years. I consequently took personal time off during the Kennedy School’s spring break and traveled with my 14-year-old son to visit beautiful Oaxaca and listen to the different stakeholders engaged in the reform process.

While in Oaxaca, I shadowed the commissioner (the PRD candidate who ran against Governor Ruiz) and the director at meetings with government officials, business associations, and representatives of unions, human rights groups and the APPO. I was not invited to Oaxaca by Governor Ruiz or by President Calderon as indicated in your blog; I do know them, did not meet with them, nor have I ever had a conversation with them. My visit was merely an exploration of whether there might be ways that my students could contribute in some way – whether they can at all remains to be seen. There are no decisions, and certainly no specific projects or plans at this point.

In terms of my professional background, which is inaccurately portrayed in your blog, my history with the Kennedy School began in 1991 when I entered the MPA program. Following my graduation in 1992, I went to work in the field of international development, and returned in 1997 to the Kennedy School, where I advised students on careers in international development and helped raise funds to support student fellowships. I eventually went on to become the President of Thessalonika Institute in Greece, a 100-year old American college that supports the education of poor rural children in Greece in sustainable agriculture; the school focuses on helping them become good farmers, good citizens and community leaders. The speech at the Harvard Club of Greece, which you inaccurately portray in your blog, was related to the school’s mission.

Most of my professional work over the past 30 years has been in the area of sustainable development (one example, improving environmental quality in the Czech Republic through the use of economic tools and democratic reforms).

Thanks again for contacting me and giving me a chance to respond. I certainly would encourage you to contact me with any further questions And should I be so fortunate to visit Oaxaca again, I would be very pleased to meet you.

Manuel Stefanakis
Director of Master in Public Administration Programs
John F. Kennedy School of Government
Harvard University
+1 617 496 1100

3. My reply to Mr. Stefanakis, First part

Date: Sat, 07 Apr 2007 20:42:26 -0500
CC: Brad Bellows , Jim Kaiserski , Svea Eppler <>, Jim O'Brien <>, Ronald Waterbury <>, Carlisle Johnson <>, Marlene Santoyo <>, Nancy Davies <>

      Thank you very much for your letter. I believe I was unfair to you in my article, and I want to apologize for the errors, both of judgment and fact, that it contained. The first step in correcting misinformation is to make the corrections public. Therefore, I will send your letter to each recipient of my original material. To begin, I am CCing this note, with your letter, to each of the individuals who wrote me (or Nancy Davies, in the case of Ronald Waterbury) about the supposed Harvard-Oaxaca connection.

      I respect your directness and openness, as well as your offer to forward my questions about “the larger history of Harvard University’s involvement in Latin America” “to people more knowledgeable than I.” In order to help set the record straight (but in no way to excuse my errors), I first learned of your presence in Oaxaca City on 25 March from the daily Oaxaca newspaper Noticias. Its featured report on page 1A (the cover page) said in part,
    Stefanakis indicó que durante su presencia en la ciudad de Oaxaca se reunirá con todos los sectores sociales para escuchar propuestas en materia de reformas a la administración pública y con base en ello establecer líneas de colaboración.
    Stefanakis indicated that during his presence in the city of Oaxaca he will meet with all social sectors in order to listen to proposals regarding reforms of the public administration, and with that basis establish lines of collaboration.
    En ese sentido, refirió que la Universidad de Harvard siguió el desarrollo del movimiento socio-político de 2006, y en virtud de ello aceptó la invitación de la Comisión Especial para la Reforma del Estado de Oaxaca (CEREO) para escuchar a todas las voces e implementar e integrar propuestas para el proceso de reconstrucción de la administración pública en su relación con la sociedad.
    In that sense, he related that Harvard University followed the development of the socio-political movement of 2006, and because of that he accepted the invitation from the Special Commission for the Reform of Oaxaca State (CEREO) in order to listen to all the voices and to unify and implement proposals for the process of reconstruction of the public administration in its relation to society.
      The huge banner headline above the report and the large photograph of you read,
Harvard contribuye a reconstruir Oaxaca
Harvard contributes (or is contributing) to reconstructing Oaxaca
The photograph of you seated to the right of an unidentified man, at a table with a microphone and tape recorders in front of you, and at least two other persons seated at the table, one to your right and the other to the left of the man on your left, and your dark blue jacket, button-down blue pin-stripe shirt and tie all strongly suggest to me that your visit was in the nature of that of an emissary of Harvard, and that the Commission made use of your visit for its own purposes.
      I do not know anything about Daniel Perez or his relation to Ulises Ruiz Ortiz. Nor do I know how much information you had about the popular rebellion in Oaxaca. The media in the United States barely mentioned events here, except during the short period of intense repression by the militarized so-called Federal Preventive Police and the police and para-police thugs of Ulises’ state government, when they misrepresented the true source of the violence as being due to unruly teachers, other APPO members, and a variety of misbehaving youngsters. If you knew about the realities of the struggle here, and the fascistic nature of Ulises regime (I use the term not because it is derogatory, which of course it is, but because I believe it to be an accurate characterization of his government), you might have hesitated to participate as you were portrayed doing. [1] Did Daniel Perez invite you? [2] Did you decide to visit without having prior contacts with non-governmental members of the opposition, i.e. of the popular movement? [3] Is there a public record of the meetings at which you listened to ”the different stakeholders engaged in the reform process”? [4] Were you hosted by the Commission, i.e. were your expenses while here paid by the state Commission? [5] Was your transportation paid by the Commission? [6] Did the Kennedy School of Government receive any fee or grant to secure its participation? From your statement that you “took personal time off during the Kennedy School's spring break”, I tend to think the answers to each of these last three questions is No, but I would like my understanding to be correct, and the meaning of the term 'personal time' is not entirely clear to me. [note added 2007-04-11. I had not numbered these six questions in my letter.]

      There are some other statements that I would like to understand, e.g. you say that I inaccurately portrayed your speech at the Harvard Club of Greece. I had written, “His background in humanitarian work and the elimination of torture can be seen in a publicity statement advertising a dinner (at 50€ a person) back in April 2005 at the Harvard Club of Greece, where, as the President of the Thessalonica Agricultural and Industrial Institute, he was the invited speaker. His subject was “The Challenge of Sustainable Development: What is Next for Greek Agriculture?” The announcement said, “His career encompasses 30 years of senior level management and development experience with governments, international agencies, and financial institutions, Fortune 500 companies, and universities in more than 40 countries; and he has worked for extended periods in Greece, the Czech Republic and Bahrain ...”

        Except for my sarcastic introductory comment, written in the context of your visit to participate, with a government that actively uses torture, in a dubious exercise of reform, the remainder came from the publicity statement that I found on the web. Of course my effort was polemical, and you may find it disagreeable, but I don't think I inaccurately portrayed your speech, unless the information on the web contained inaccuracies.

      There are several other statements in your letter that I would like to question, but this is already becoming lengthy, and those questions can wait because I want to include here the substance of some comments I received. The first version of my polemic was on the Narco News website shortly before midnight on the same date the Noticias report appeared, 25 March.[10] Just past midnight I sent it to my e-mail distribution list, which resulted in it being posted on the Oaxaca Study-Action Group website,[11] and on the Science for the People Discussion list website.[12] Several comments led me to make a few changes, as for example where I had written in sarcasm, “You can bet he’s going to speak with the political prisoners, with rank and file teachers in Local 22 of the National Educational Workers Union, with the groups aligned with the APPO (the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca), with the inhabitants of the indigenous communities all over the state, where ninety percent of the Oaxacan peoples live outside the capital city, and with the human rights workers and others still threatened by outstanding arrest warrants by the lawless state and federal governments.” I dropped the sarcasm and changed that to read, “You can bet he's not going to speak ...” (emphasis added here)

4. My reply to Mr. Stefanakis, Second Part

      Here are some of the comments I've received, and a few notes of mine:

From: Good Morning Guatemala <>
Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2007 09:40:51 -0600

For the life of me I can’t follow any thread of logic that ties Harvard to either repression or the situation in Oaxaca. “Harvard” is a collection of individuals with degrees from Harvard University (I have both undergraduate and graduate degrees). Derek Bok is long gone, so is General Gramajo. And the Mexico of Felipe Calderon is far different from even the Mexico of pre-Vicente Fox. There is hope now, strengthened institutions and those who wanted to wreck Mexico’s progress in Oaxaca have been thwarted.
Thank God.
Carlisle Johnson

Good Morning Guatemala
FM 97.7
An Affiliate of ABC Radio International
Emisoras Unidas de Guatemala
tel: (502) 5212 4062
Webcast: follow prompts to Kiss FM 0700 to 0830

From: Ronald Waterbury <>
Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2007 12:14:53 -0600

The article states that:
"Harvard University has been following the development of the sociopolitical movement of 2006, by virtue of which it has accepted the invitation of the Special Comision for the Reform of the State of Oaxaca in order to listen to all of the voices and implement and integrate proposals for the reconstruction of the public administration and its relations with the society." (my translation).  
Two points:
1)--While I don't know every research project carried out by foreign universities in Oaxaca, I do know about most of them.  As far as I am aware no Harvard researcher has been "following developments of the sociopolitical movement."  Unless, of course, Harvard is monitoring this e-mail list indirectlty.  (Of the more than 350 scholors on the list, none that I know of is from Harvard.) [Ronald Waterbury is Secretary of the Welty Institute, a research library in Oaxaca City devoted to the history of Oaxaca. —G.S.]
2) Most observers have serious doubts about the motives of the "Special Commision" and view it as a face-saving creation of the state government with the goal of trying to steal the thunder from reform demands and proposals put forward by opposition civil society organizations, some of which are independent and some of which are affiliated to one degree or other with the APPO.
From: Jim Kaiserski <>
Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2007 15:15:35 -0700 (PDT)

Your attitude to Harvard can be justified by all that you mentioned of its Latin American connections up to now, but I hope to hear about Stefanakis in Oaxaca, who he talks to and anything real (as opposed to statements like It is unclear..) that he is involved in. His involvement (ostensibly, at least) in the elimination of torture would be good to know about, either to justify smearing him with Harvard's past (there was nothing really about HIM in your article) or to see if he is some different kind of Harvard animal. The situation also seems somewhat different in that although Harvard trained people who bacame monstrous (you presume they were invited and trained bcause they were monsters), Harvard didn't send one of its own to Guatemala to justify the mayhem. Anyway this should be very good for your cause as it will put Oaxaca more in the spotlight and thus your side more in the spotlight. I find the fascistic mob statement believable. I went to a Harvard graduate school of education meeting involving a California millionaire behind a pro ESL [English as a Second Language] and anti-bilingual program in California and the Hispanic graduate students who came were there to hoot and whistle and stop the talking, not for dialogue, and to me that is fascistic.
      The day after my initial e-mail distribution, I wrote an introductory paragraph (the beginning of which is included below) to my original polemic, made a few small changes, and sent it to the Globe. There were no reference footnotes in that version.

Subject: An article on Harvard in Oaxaca
Date: Mon, 26 Mar 2007 14:54:34 -0600
To: Marjorie Pritchard <>

Oaxaca, Monday, 26 March 2007

Dear Marjorie Pritchard,
      I am a professor emeritus of physics at UMass/Boston who has lived in Oaxaca City since September 1999. I submit for your consideration as a possible (contentious) opinion piece the following article. If it does interest you and you want to confirm that it is indeed by me, as I recall the Globe did in the past, you can reach me here in Oaxaca at (951)-514-8242.
Thank you for your consideration.
George Salzman
In Oaxaca, Harvard to the Rescue
George Salzman, Oaxaca, March 25, 2007
      A tenacious struggle in this southern Mexican city, capital of impoverished Oaxaca State, erupted just over ten months ago. It is powered by the long-oppressed indigenous majority of the state, about two-thirds of the 3.5 to 4 million inhabitants. Two attempts to crush it, ...
      In order to encourage publication I sent the following message:

Subject: Exposing Harvard's dirty hand in Mexico
Date: Tue, 27 Mar 2007 10:35:03 -0600
To: David Lewit <>, Charlie Welch <>, The LPC Collective Email List <>, Monty Neill <>, Jason Torpy <>, Brad Bellows <>, Housemates <>

      I sent an article to the op-ed page editor at the Globe for possible publication. I doubt they’ll use it, unless a number of people write letters about Harvard's meddling in Mexico on behalf of the government(s). If you could circulate this to people on your lists throughout the Boston area, and some of them respond, maybe the editor will put together a page on Harvard and Oaxaca for the Sunday Globe. Thanks for forwarding it.

From: Brad Bellows <>
Date: Thu, 29 Mar 2007 09:07:56 -0400

I’m well aware that Harvard’s conduct has often been nefarious, and that their fundraising efforts often serve as a kind of reputation-laundering machine for wealthy contributors whose gains have been ill-gotten. In my field, the “Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston”, funded by the proceeds of the demolition of Boston’s West End, comes to mind. And in terms of Central American politics, I remember the Kennedy School disinviting former ambassador and human rights activist Robert White from speaking at the School, at the request of Reagan administration officials.[13] But ... it [is] hard for me to be unqualified in my criticism.

I want to know a bit more about the history that supports your more negative view. If you have a few minutes to educate me on this, I’d be grateful. I’m sure there is much I don’t know about, and should. It would help me to be a more useful critic if you could give me a few pointers.

I wonder if the Crimson would be an appropriate forum for a discussion of the current Oaxaca initiative, and whether some of Harvard’s many activist clubs and organizations might also be worth contacting. Institutions like Harvard are particularly vulnerable to pressure from within.

      Brad’s prior awareness that all was not pristine pure at Harvard and his sense that I was perhaps too unreservedly critical led him to do some research, resulting in his uncovering a good deal of hard factual information that we both find quite disturbing.

From: Brad
Date: Sat, 31 Mar 2007 18:57:46 -0400

You may derive some bitter satisfaction from [my discovery] that ... one of the founders of the Project for a New American Century,[14] a military analyst for the Reagan Administration, and head of the Olin Institute at Harvard [15] (funded by the John Olin Foundation) is a House Master [Harvard maintains residence houses for students.]. His cosigners on the PNAC Statement of Principles include Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Scooter Libby, and Paul Wolfowitz.[16]

      I replied in part,

Date: Sat, 31 Mar 2007 18:32:45 -0600

      Of course it still doesn’t establish that Manuel Stefanakis lacks humanitarian impulses, though my guess is that money is more important to him than a small number of human rights violations. But my real point is not to focus on individuals — I'm confident there are some nice guys (and women) in the Kennedy School of Government — my real target is the overall, and very consistent institutional thrust of the ruling corporations, of which Harvard is one.

      Brad’s next letter is a real blockbuster regarding Harvard, but does not tarnish Manuel Stefanakis at all. In as much as my real target is not individuals but Harvard as an institution, I include that letter here.

Date: Sun, 1 Apr 2007 12:48:25 -0400

      The Masters of Winthrop House, appointed in 2003 by then President Summers, are Stephen Rosen and Mandana Sassanfar. While I doubt that the Masters are central to House life, one assumes they may play a certain mentoring role, symbolically or practically. One of the other Masters, Diana Eck, is a former client and a really wonderful person. So I was curious about who Mr. Rosen and Ms. Sassanfar were and looked them up.

      Mandana Sassanfar is a Molecular Biologist at MIT who does a lot of outreach to high school teachers, mentors girls interested in science, and generally seems to be a pretty wonderful person.

      Her husband and co-Master, Stephen Rosen, is Professor of National Security and Military Affairs, and head of the John M. Olin Center for Strategic Studies. I’ve been marginally aware of the Olin Foundation’s role as a key funder of right wing causes, so I looked a little deeper.

      Rosen, is also a member of the Board of Visitors for the U.S. Joint Forces Command, and of the China Futures Panel for the Central Intelligence Agency. He has also been a professor in the Strategy Department of the Naval War College, a consultant to The President’s Commission on Integrated Long Term Strategy, and director of Political-Military Affairs for the National Security Council during the Reagan Administration. In 1997 he was one of the founders of the Project for a New American Century, along with Rumsfeld, Cheney, Libby, William Kristol, Elliott Abrams, Jeb Bush, Frank Gaffney, and Paul Wolfowitz. Richard Perle was another founder of PNAC, though not a signatory to the Statement of Principles.

      The John Olin Foundation has actually endowed two institutes at Harvard, the Olin Center at Harvard Law School, and the Olin Institute for Strategic Studies, which Rosen heads. Olin was a major funder of the PNAC, which of which Rosen was a founding member.

      Interestingly, the Foundation was dissolved in 2005 as a condition of Olin’s will intended to prevent “mission drift”. Olin's activism was galvanized by the 1969 student takeover of a building at his alma mater, Cornell, and began pouring money into right-wing organizations on college campuses. From 1969 to 2005 the Foundation disbursed $370 million to conservative think tanks and institutes at prominent universities. The Olin fortune is derived from the Olin Corporation, a munitions and chemical manufacturer whose divisions include Winchester Arms Company, Olin Brass (a significant portion of whose business includes ammunition cartridges) and Equitable Powder Company (an explosives manufacturer). Winchester profited to a staggering degree during WWI and WWII (supplying 15 billion rounds of ammunition in WWII alone, according to the company website). One is reminded that just as inkjet printer manufacturers make their money on the ink, the real money in the weapons business in in the ammunition. Olin is also responsible for mercury contamination of the Holston River in Virginia. William Simon, treasury secretary under Nixon, ran the foundation from 1977 to 2000. A quote:

Funds generated by business...must rush by the multimillions to the aid of funnel desperately needed funds to scholars, social scientists, writers and journalists who understand the relationship between political and economic liberty. [Business must] cease the mindless subsidizing of colleges and universities whose departments of economy, government, politics and history are hostile to capitalism.

      Olin has supported the Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation, the Hoover Institution at Stanford, the Hudson Institute, the Manhattan Institute and the American Enterprise Institute. Olin has also made large donations to Harvard Law School ($10M, the largest donation in their 186 year history). Stanford Law ($8.3M), Yale Law (Olin Chair for Robert Bork), University of Chicago Law School, among others. Olin underwrote a character assassination of Anita Hill, whose author later apologized. Olin funded a lawsuit by the Dartmouth Review

      PNAC was one of the key intellectual sources for the interventionist doctrine pursued by the current administration. Their Statement of Principles concludes:

      “Our aim is to remind Americans of these lessons and to draw their consequences for today. Here are four consequences:
* we need to increase defense spending significantly if we are to carry out our global responsibilities today and modernize our armed forces for the future;
* we need to strengthen our ties to democratic allies and to challenge regimes hostile to our interests and values;
* we need to promote the cause of political and economic freedom abroad;
* we need to accept responsibility for America’s unique role in preserving and extending an international order friendly to our security, our prosperity, and our principles.
      “Such a Reaganite policy of military strength and moral clarity may not be fashionable today. But it is necessary if the United States is to build on the successes of this past century and to ensure our security and our greatness in the next.”

      Essentially, PNAC’s intellectual output seems, at its root, to be an effort to counter pressures for reduced military expenditures in the aftermath of the Cold War, a prospect that would certainly have alarmed the corporate interests who had fed so happily at this trough for the prior 50 years.

      For more on this, see: .

      In a recent interview Rosen described his approach to teaching as follows:

Teaching is about changing the student's emotional state, making the timid students more intellectually adventurous, making the cocky less sure that they know all the answers. Since Rosen teaches a subject that is a hot-button issue for most people, his task in the classroom is to get students to regard the material from a more detached, intellectual perspective and avoid bringing their feelings into play. (let’s send his kids to fight in Iraq and see how “detached” he feels). Sometimes teaching is about toning down the emotional state of the students, making them less angry or afraid, which is a particular issue for me since I teach about war. Nevertheless, nothing is as important to Rosen as conveying to students the excitement that he himself feels about his subject. More than anything else, teaching is about making the students excited about the material, because if you can do that, they will teach themselves.

      When I read this, I couldn’t help noting that Rosen doesn’t just “teach about war”, he effectively advocates for it. And I wondered how “detached” he would feel if any of his three kids were fighting in Iraq. This is not to say that ideas and policies should not be subject to dispassionate analysis, but I can well imagine that “distancing” is a central strategy in constructing the kinds of policies Rosen appears to have advocated for over much of his career, and perhaps also critical in Harvard’s ability to bring saints and sinners together under one roof.

      For a sympathetic portrait of Rosen, published in 1999, see: .

[The need] is to see how weapons money determines which ideas get investigated, which scholars get promoted, which books get published, and what policies get pursued.
      Brad has uncovered a fair amount of additional information about Harvard, but that too can wait for another time. His stance is one of hoping that by making public the contradictions between the good and the bad at Harvard, it may be possible to bring about some reforms that will result in improving the institution. He and I disagree on the likelihood of that happening. Nevertheless, I want to assure you, Mr. Stefanakis, that it was wrong of me to make critical assumptions about you as an individual without first contacting you and seeking more information than was readily available to me. I assumed ‘guilt by association’, an old and discredited practice. If you do come to Oaxaca again, I would welcome the chance to meet you.

George Salzman


[10] The original, on Narco News, is at . .

[11] The Oaxaca Study-Action Group (OSAG) posting is at .

[12] The Science for the People posting is at

[13] Former Ambassador to El Salvador Robert White. He lasted there from 1980 to 1981, when he was forced out of the State Department. A fascinating account of the gruesome experience that changed his life is at .

[14] The Project for the New American Century (PNAC) is a plan for the conquest and continuing domination of the entire world by the United States government. It was the work of a group of prominent neoliberals, many of whom gained appointments in the George Bush Jr. administration, which put the program for conquest into action early on. The PNAC is presented on its website at .

[15] John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies at Harvard University, .

[16] Donald Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, and Paul Wolfowitz were four of the more prominent signatories. The full list of signers includes, in addition: Elliott Abrams, Gary Bauer, William J. Bennett, Jeb Bush, Eliot A. Cohen, Midge Decter, Paula Dobriansky, Steve Forbes, Aaron Friedberg, Francis Fukuyama, Frank Gaffney, Fred C. Ikle, Donald Kagan, Zalmay Khalilzad, Norman Podhoretz, Dan Quayle, Peter W. Rodman, Stephen P. Rosen, Henry S. Rowen, Vin Weber and George Weigel.

All comments and criticisms are welcome.  <>

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