The director of the D.C. Office on Latino Affairs resigned yesterday, complaining that the agency has never received enough funding to do its job effectively.
"It has become evident that we have been unable to secure the funds and the overall support necessary to develop urgently needed programs," director Aida Berio wrote in a letter to Mayor Marion Barry, who appointed her to the post 16 months ago.
In an interview, she added, "Let's face it. The overall idea is that we [latinos] don't come as a priority."
Berio, 51, said that when she took the job, she expected enough funding to hire a staff of 10, but last year received only $106,000 and was able to hire only three staff members. While the city's 1981 budget has not yet been approved by Congress, the House of Representatives has give preliminary approval to a budget for the agency of $104,000.
"It's just frustration," Berio said. It's impossible to work under these circumstances."
Berio said budget constraints have prevented the agency from providing the kinds of services, including wide-spread counseling in jobs and social services, that had been planned for the city's Latino community. She praised Barry for establishing the office and for seeking more funds than Congress was willing to approve, and said her decision to leave was not caused by dissatisfaction with Barry.
There was no immediate reaction from the mayor's office.