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Advocating Diversity: Hispanics in the Foreign Service

Hispanics comprise more than

17 percent of the U.S. popula-

tion. And although the number

of Hispanics in the Foreign

Service (roughly 5 percent

at State and 2.5 percent at

USAID) is a long way off from

that mark, the American

Foreign Service Association is

working with multiple partners

to close that gap.

According to the Associa-

tion for Diplomatic Studies

and Training, the advent of the

Alliance for Progress—a presi-

dential initiative established in

1961 to strengthen economic

cooperation between the

United States and Latin Amer-

ican countries—prompted an

influx of Hispanics into the

Foreign Service.

Four years later, Joseph

John Jova became the first

Hispanic, career-Foreign

Service ambassador and

represented the United States

in Honduras. He later became

ambassador to the Organiza-

tion of American States and to


Today, the Service benefits

from a cadre of distinguished

career diplomats of Hispanic

heritage, such as retired

Ambassadors John Negro-

ponte and Lino Gutierrez

and active-duty Ambassador

Liliana Ayalde.

The rise in the number of

Hispanics in the Foreign Ser-

vice has also been bolstered

by allies on Capitol Hill.

To commemorate Hispanic

Heritage Month, AFSAwould

like to highlight some of the

congressional groups and

educational initiatives dedi-

cated to the advancement of

Hispanics whose members

strive to make significant

contributions to U.S. foreign


The Congressional Hispanic Caucus, foun


in 1976, serves as a forum

for the Hispanic members of

Congress to coalesce around

a collective legislative agenda.

Its focus is to advance

issues—domestic and interna-

tional—affecting Hispanics in

the United States, Puerto Rico

and the Commonwealth of the

Northern Mariana Islands.

Recently, AFSAworked

with the office of CHC mem-

ber and former chairman of

the Senate Foreign Relations

Committee, Senator Bob

Menendez (D-N.J.), to secure

language in support of addi-

tional resources for recruit-

ment and retention of under-

represented communities in S.

1635, the Department of State

Operations Authorization and

Embassy Security Act, Fiscal

Year 2016. The bill passed

the SFRC unanimously, and a

floor vote is now pending.

AFSA is also working with

CHC member Representative

Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.), who

serves on the House Appro-

priations Subcommittee on

State, Foreign Operations and

Related Programs, toward the

same goal.

In addition, educational

programs have been invalu-

able in identifying and devel-

oping the next generation of

Hispanic leaders. In 1978, a

small group of Hispanic mem-

bers of Congress established

the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute.

CHCI is founded on three

cornerstones: educational

attainment, leadership devel-

opment and access to a pow-

erful professional network.

The institute benefits more

than 1,700 young Latinos each

year through its fellowships,

congressional internships and


And in 2003, the Congres-

sional Hispanic Leadership

Institute was founded by

members of Congress to

promote the advancement

of Hispanic and Portuguese

Americans through educa-

tional partnerships, leadership

programs, academic seminars

and other events.

Today, many members

of the Foreign Service have

passed through these pro-

grams, and still other alumni

remain on the Hill and have

proven to be valuable allies.

If you participated in CHCI

or CHLI, please share your

experience with us at


—Javier Cuebas,

Director of Advocacy

• There are 38 Hispanics in the 114th Congress.

• Hispanics make up 7 percent of Congress.

• Thirty-four Hispanics serve in the House (25 Democrats,

9 Republicans).

• Four Hispanics serve in the Senate (3 Republicans,

1 Democrat).

• Nine of the Hispanic members of Congress are women.

• Representatives Linda Sánchez (D-Calif.) and Loretta

Sánchez (D-Calif.) are sisters.

• Twenty-six Hispanics form the Congressional Hispanic

Caucus. They are all Democrats.

(Source: Congressional Research Service)