The Washington Free Beacon reported last week that President of Ecuador Rafael Correa will address the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum at Harvard’s Institute of Politics next week.
The director of media relations at Harvard, Doug Gavel, told the Free Beacon that a fundamental tenet of Harvard’s Kennedy School is the “free exchange of ideas.” He also pointed out “in keeping with that educational mission, the school has a long and proud tradition of providing a venue for leaders from around the world to speak to and interact with the community on important public policy issues.”
However, will anyone at Harvard ask Correa about the lack of political and economic freedom in Ecuador?
President Correa is known for his anti-American rhetoric and crackdown on press freedoms. According to the 2014 Index of Economic Freedom, Ecuador’s economic freedom score ranks 159th worldwide and 26th in Latin America. Its property rights score and freedom from corruption score are also way below the world average.
Jose Cardenas, a former National Security Council staffer and an expert on Latin America, told the Free Beacon, “For the university I mean my goodness—hosting somebody whose record on respect for freedom of speech and freedom of the press back home has been so negative. What Correa should be doing is debating somebody from the press.”
Harvard University has all too often been a haven for dictators. In 2006, for example, the university welcomed former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami, who spoke about “Ethics of Tolerance in the Age of Violence.”
During Khatami’s administration, the regime refused to renounce terrorism and Islamic jihad, and it slaughtered the leaders of its political opposition. And rather than respect Iranian universities as a forum for the free exchange of ideas, the Khatami regime jailed students who dared to speak out against the theocracy.
Harvard is free to invite whomever it wishes to speak on campus, but pause should be given before inviting those who have committed such obvious abuses.
Harvard’s motto, Veritas, means “truth” in Latin. Too many of its speakers often go there only to tell lies.
Michael F. Mo is currently a member of the Young Leaders Program at The Heritage Foundation. For more information on interning at Heritage, please click here.