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Valentin Pereda-Aguado

peredaMA International Security 2010
External Consultant for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID)

My experience at the University of Warwick was essential for the construction of the academic profile that has enabled me to consolidate my professional experience. After I graduated with Distinction from the International Security MA programme, I decided to come back to Mexico City and look for employment in institutions involved in addressing some of Mexico’s most pressing security challenges.

After a round of interviews I was offered a position as the Deputy-Coordinator of a new project at the Regional Headquarters of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). The aim of the project was to create alliances between the UNODC and Latin American National Statistics Offices in order to conduct crime surveys to generate much needed information regarding the scope and characteristics of illegal activity in the region. Through the creation of the Center of Excellence for Statistics on Crime, Public Security, Victimization and Justice, the United Nations aims to promote the development of crime policies based on scientific information regarding crime trends and the dynamics of the underworld.

After the successful establishment of the Center of Excellence I was offered a new position at the advisory board of Mexico’s Public Security Minister. The purpose of this placement was to assist a special team of advisors designated to create the Center for Research and Studies in Security, a small, public think tank aimed at financing and promoting academic research on subjects related with public security in Mexico. During my work at the Ministry I was responsible for the selection of research proposals, the evaluation of drafts and the proposition of new research subjects based on the priorities of Mexico’s Federal Police. In this respect, I oversaw the development of studies on the social roots of organized crime, the restructuration of the federal prison system, the development of a national police database and the construction of a new civil service system for the Federal Police.

By the time this Research Center was fully functional, I was offered a new position, working as an international liaison officer at the Mexican Ministry of the Interior within the department in charge of coordinating the reform of Mexico’s Criminal Justice System. As a representative of the federal administration, I was responsible for supporting the coordination of various international cooperation projects. During my work at the Ministry of the Interior I acted as direct liaison with the Canadian Embassy in Mexico in order to coordinate technical assistance schemes aimed at providing Mexican judges and district attorneys with the necessary skills to work in accordance with the requirements of the adversarial criminal justice system. Additionally, I was responsible for supporting the coordination of two projects with the governments of France and Spain, aimed respectively at strengthening the investigative skills of Mexican detectives, and at modernizing the structure of the Public Defender’s Office at the state of Oaxaca.

The experience I acquired during my work at the Mexican Ministry of Interior enabled me to get a new position working as an external consultant for the United States Agency for International Development’s Rule of Law Program. As an external advisor, my responsibilities entail providing direct technical assistance to Public Defender’s Offices in different locations near the Mexico/US border. The objective of this technical assistance is to optimize the performance levels of Public Defender’s Offices through the use of various institutional organization mechanisms as well as the employment of methodological tools to modify standard operational procedures. While this work involves travelling on a regular basis to some of the cities with the highest murder rates in the World, and the strongest presence of transnational criminal organizations, the opportunity to conduct fieldwork within the institutions in charge of addressing crime-related issues is most rewarding.

My advice for anyone thinking of applying to Warwick is to give yourself plenty of time to arrange plans and funding. I applied for three scholarships and only got one, so you have to be persistent. Choose the right course for you and you won’t be disappointed.

I am also currently participating in the Warwick Ambassador scheme; read my full student profile.