In this interview, Sigrid Arzt Colunga explains the role of the Technical Secretary of the National Security Council in Mexico. She discusses the administrative coordination necessary to serve national and public security needs in Mexico. Just as the Calderon administration is coming into power, she describes the political diplomacy and cooperation she uses to transition into her newly created role as the President’s security adviser. She also details the process of communicating with and reporting to the President and Congress, as well as coordinating efforts with other ministers and technical secretaries. Arzt says one of the challenges of the job is that the legal mandate detailing the power of the position is vague, and because it is a new position, others in the bureaucracy and older agencies do not immediately accept her authority. Arzt also explains the mission and vision behind the National Security Plan, and describes some of her responsibilities, like allocating budget appropriations, working with the governors to secure states, and coordinating agenda items for the President’s meetings with senior administrators.
At the time of this interview Sigrid Arzt Colunga was working with a think tank, conduting policy research in Mexico. She had extensive experience working on national and public security issues through her academic work, with the Fundacion Rafael Preciado, and through public service. She worked both as a public servant and a consultant for Centro de Investigación y Seguridad Nacional (CISEN) and served as Technical Secretary to Attorney General Antonio Lozano Gracia during President Ernesto Zedillo’s administration. She also formerly directed the NGO Democracia de Derechos Humanos y Seguridad, an organization that gathered information and made policy recommendations regarding issues of security, human rights and transparency. She officially joined President Felipe Calderon’s transition team in October 2006 as the Technical Secretary of the National Security Council, and served in that role until resigning in March 2009.