He said Téllez would have been an “important resource” for HDS students studying Central American religion.
“I think this is bad policy,” Carrasco said. “I think it’s a loss.”
Carrasco said he had not known about Téllez’s political involvement before he began to help her plan her courses via e-mail, but that he would have worked with her anyway.
Téllez had planned to teach two courses this spring: “From Revolution to Hope: Nicaragua and the Sandinista Aftermath,” and a seminar called “Caribbean Identity, Race, and Ethnicity.” The courses were to examine issues of social and religious thought, politics, and ethnicity.
“She has quite a remarkable background as a social activist as well as a historian,” Coatsworth said.
Téllez is currently finishing research on the history of coffee in Nicaragua for the Institute of Nicaraguan History and the Central American University. She is continuing in her position as the president of the Sandinista Renewal Movement Party, and wrote in an e-mail that she intends to run for Congress in Nicaragua in 2006.
Téllez’s decision to decline the visiting professorship at Harvard comes after University leaders have criticized State Department restrictions on international travel.
Last April, University President Lawrence H. Summers sent letters to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell and then-Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Tom Ridge ’67, citing decreases in applications and enrollment from international students. Summers suggested that these might be the result of restrictions on travel after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.
Coatsworth said that the Rockefeller Center’s graduate program has also suffered a decline in applications from international students.
According to Harvard’s Senior Director of Federal and State Relations Kevin Casey, University officials were not involved in lobbying on behalf of Téllez, since she had been denied a visa to attend the University of San Diego, and never applied for a visa to teach at Harvard.