Consuelo Sáizar Guerrero (born 1961 in Acaponeta, Nayarit) is an editor, writer and publisher, former President of the Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes (CONACULTA). She began her career working in the family printing business as well as writing about her home state of Nayarit in newspapers. After graduating with a degree in Communications in 1983, she began to manage departments and editorial enterprises in the private sector until 2002, when she was named the director of the Fondo de Cultura Económica, a government publishing institution. She restructured the organization, making it grow and run in the black but with high turnover and criticism of turning the organization into a business. In 2009, she was named President of CONACULTA, in charge of many of the events related to Mexico’s bicentennial celebrations in 2010 and promotion of Mexico’s culture domestically and abroad.
Consuelo Sáizar Guerrero was born in Acaponeta, Nayarit in 1961. She often jokes that in her small hometown most girls think about becoming hairdressers or read poetry. In her case, she was born into a family related to print media. Her grandfather owned a print shop and a newspaper he founded in 1917. Her father then inherited the newspaper.
She began working her the family business when she was young, then decided to make that a professional career. She received a bachelor's degree in Communications from the Universidad Iberoamericana in 1983. She continued studying accounting, public administration and finance, receiving certificates from this university as well as the Instituto Tecnológico Autónomo de México. She also studied publishing in Great Britain.
She has had personal and professional relationships with a number of important writers and intellectuals including Juan Rulfo, Jorge Luis Borges, Octavio Paz and Carlos Monsiváis . She has stated that her most precious possession is a copy of The Aleph autographed by Jorge Luis Borges.
Her professional life has been dedicated to book editing beginning at age nineteen, when she worked at her grandparent’s printing and newspaper operations in Nayarit. From 1978 to 1979, she was also a reporter and writer in Nayarit for El Observador in Tepic and El Heraldo de México in Mexico City .
She was an external consultant with Martín Casillas Editores and with Editorial Trillas from 1980 to 1983. She was also production manager and department coordinator for Editorial Terranova in 1982.
In 1983, she was recruited by Editorial Jus, a legal publisher, by Juan Landereche Obregón, who acted as her mentor. She remained with the company as general manager until 1990. From 1988 to 1989, she was also a contributor to the newspaper La Jornada as well as a press consultant for the Fondo Nacional para Actividades Sociales.
She was elections advisor (consejera electoral) for Mexico City in 1997 and is a member of the Consejo Asesor de Causa Ciudadana.
Fondo de Cultura Económica
In 2002, Sáizar was named the first female director of the Fondo de Cultura Económica (FCE), one of the most prestigious publishers in the Spanish language, created in 1934 by Daniel Cosío Villegas . She was named head of the FCE after the head of the Secretaría de Educación Pública, removed her predecessor, Gonzalo Celorio, without explanation. Sáizar was not part of the controversy. She remained in the position until 2009.
When she took over the FCE she found that the bibliography of the institution lacked important names such as Gabriel García Marquez, Carlos Monsiváis and Elena Poniatowska and worked to make the publishing house more attractive for more writers. While head of the FCE, she created new collections such as the complete works of Octavio Paz.
She began to restructure the institution to increase its production and reach. She opened FCE bookstores in Mexico City, most notably the Centro Cultural Bella Época, in various Mexican states and even abroad, such as the Centro Cultural Gabriel García Márquez in 2007 in Bogota, Colombia. CFE books began to be sold through affiliates in Peru, Guatemala, Venezuela, Brazil, Spain, Chile, the United States and Colombia.
Book production under her tenure increased from 1.2 million copies to almost five million copies per year. The FCE also obtained ISO 9001-2000 certification for its distribution facilities, publishing, library and bookstores. While most government cultural institutions run at a deficit, the FCE was the only to see an increase in income during her term, as well as an expansion its infrastructure and operations abroad. She cut payroll expenses by a third, but this also led to an eighty percent turnover in staff, the highest in the institution’s history. This included the loss of people such as Adolfo Castañón, general director, Daniel Goldin, in charge of books for youth and María del Carmen Farías, the director of the Ciencia division. Farías publicly accused Sáizar of turning the cultural institution into a commercial enterprise. Sáizar denies departing from the mission of the FCE, as established by its founder Daniel Cosío Villegas.
In 2009, she was named the head of the Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes (National Council for Culture and the Arts), which she currently holds. She has promoted Mexican culture’s impact on the world, noting that the country hosts the largest book festival in the Spanish language, the Feria Internacional del Libro in Guadalajara, the third largest international festival in the world, the Festival Internacional Cervantino and the largest and most visited film repository in the world, the Cineteca Nacional .
From 2007 to 2012, government support of film projects increased from 1,772 million pesos to 6,260 million pesos, with 418 films made during this period. CONACULTA acquired the personal libraries of José Luis Martínez, Carlos Monsiváis, Jaime García Terrés, Antonio Castro Leal and Alí Chumacero to add to that of the José Vasconcelos Library in Mexico City. Art acquisitions for the museums of the Instituto Nacional de Bellas Artes totaled 145 million pesos from 2008 to 2011. In 2011, she began a project to work on the digitalization of Mexico’s archives of images, text and sound. There have also been renovations to the Ciudadela library facility, the Estudios Churubusco, the Siqueiros Workshop in Cuernavaca and the Tamayo Museum in Mexico City .
However, her tenure has been criticized as lacking definition. The main challenge during her tenure was the celebration of Mexico’s Bicentennial of its Independence and Centennial of the Mexican Revolution, both of which occurred in 2010. She recognized that 2010 was “a very difficult year” for her and CONACULTA with work related to the Bicentennial such as the renovation of the Palacio de Bellas Artes . There was a proposal to create a film museum called the Museo del Cine but this project has been put on hold.
Other work and recognitions
In 2010, she was named President of the Comité Ejecutivo del Centro, for the promotion of books in Latin America and the Caribbean in Bogotá Colombia. Her recognitions include the Order of Civil Merit from the government of Spain in 2003, and the Emilia Ortiz Medal from the state of Nayarit in 2008. In 2010, the government of Colombia awarded her the Medal of Cultural Merit from the country’s Ministry of Culture. In 2011 she received the Bernardo O´Higgins Order from the government of Chile.
- "Perfil: Consuelo Sáizar" [Profile: Consuelo Sáizar]. El Universal (in Spanish). Mexico City. March 3, 2009. Retrieved September 26, 2012.
- "Al frente de la SEP quedará Consuelo Sáizar Guerrero (Biografía y Fotos)" [Consuelo Sáizar Guerrero remains in front of SEP (Biography and Photos)] (in Spanish). Mexico City: Politica Real. 2011. Retrieved September 26, 2012.
- Licona, Sandra (October 1, 2006). "Consuelo Sáizar, mujer de tinta y papel" [Consuelo Sáizar, woman of ink and paper]. El Universal (in Spanish). Mexico City.
- "CONSUELO SÁIZAR." (in Spanish). Mexico: CONACULTA. Retrieved September 26, 2012.
- "Transformó Consuelo Sáizar el Fondo de Cultura durante su gestión." [Consuelo Sáizar transformed the Fondo de Cultura during her tenure]. NOTIMEX (in Spanish). Mexico City. March 3, 2009.
- Lopez, Sergio Raul (May 5, 2002). "Entrevista/ Consuelo Saizar/ 'Me prepare 20 anos para dirigirlo'" [Interview/Consuelo Saizar "I prepared myself for twenty years to direct it"]. Reforma (in Spanish). Mexico City. p. 3.
- "Ve Consuelo Sáizar a México como Potencia Cultural Mundial" [Consuelo Sáizar sees Mexico as a world cultural power]. El Rotativo (in Spanish). Querétaro. September 25, 2012. Retrieved September 26, 2012.
- Judith Amador Tello (September 10, 2012). "Consuelo Sáizar rinde informe de labores del Conaculta" [Consuelo Sáizar gives progress report]. Proceso (in Spanish). Mexico City. Retrieved September 26, 2012.
- ""2010 ha sido un año muy difícil": Consuelo Sáizar" ["2010 has been a very difficult year" Consuelo Sáizar]. El Universal (in Spanish). Mexico City. December 10, 2010.
- "Reconoce Colombia la labor de Consuelo Sáizar" [Colombia recognizes the work of Consuelo Sáizar]. NOTIMEX (in Spanish). Mexico City. July 4, 2010.