The short but eventful tenure of the CIA’s Hispanic Program Coordinator

Before hiring the HPC, the Agency’s Hispanic employees made up less than one percent of staff

Written by Cynthia Fernandez
Edited by JPat Brown

In the mid-1970s, the CIA had a surprisingly low number of Hispanic employees, which, given the agency’s extensive involvement in Latin and Caribbean nations might come as a surprise. As a solution to the Agency’s disproportionate representation of the nation’s second largest minority, the agency hired a Hispanic Program Coordinator (HPC). Less than four years later, the unnamed and unthanked program coordinator resigned in order to resume his “regular duties,” according to a memo to then- Director Stansfield Turner and then-Deputy Director E. Henry Knoche.

In his resignation letter, reminded the directors that when he was appointed by Director Colby just three years ago, the Equal Employment Opportunities department had no intelligence on how many Hispanics they employed or who they were.

The coordinator took on the great task of finding and listing the names of CIA’s Hispanic employees and made sure to keep the list as updated as possible.

The HPC’s “ethnics” database helped him quantify the number of Hispanics in the CIA, and he noted that while they had not reached the goal the Management Committee had approved in 1975, he had high hopes that CIA will one day reach proportional representation - whatever that redacted amount might be.

The coordinator did not want to leave the CIA without a legacy, so he made sure to leave the agency with “Task Force Hispanic,” his effort to “give renewed emphasis to the CIA’s desire to improve its position vis-à-vis the Hispanic minority.” He envisioned a week-long showcase on the benefits of hiring Hispanics, featuring speakers, food, music, and other fun activities.

The HPC leaves the directors with the solace that in his attempts to improve Hispanics’ views of the CIA, he has never personally encountered any bad hombres.

The Deputy Director Turner thanked the HPC five days later in a comparatively curt response. Here’s two out of the eight sentences total:

Deputy Turner’s letter spills the beans on just how few Hispanics were in the CIA at the time (less than one percent), which was a previously redacted stat in the HPC’s memo.

Read the HPC’s resignation is embedded below.


Image via Wikimedia Commons