A photo caption in yesterday's Style section incorrectly identified the host of a Hispanics for Reagan-Bush party. He is Alex Armendaris.
"I'm a Bay of Pigger," said Humberton Cortinas, Cuban-born and part of that invasion, now a Miami investment banker, running for city commissioner and working the room last night at the Capitol Hill Club like a pro. He chatted up two Cabinet secretaries and one high-level White House official.
"I came out of Cuba when I was 17," said Cortinas. "I'm as American as blueberry pie -- maybe not apple pie, but blueberry pie."
And just as Republican as any Republican who has photos on his wall of Daddy and Nelson Rockefeller.
Cortinas was in good company last night at a party for the campaing staff of the Hispanics for Reagan-Bush Committee, clearly a group with clout. Among the high-level draw: Lyn Nofziger, assistant to the president for political affairs, Elizabeth Dole, presidential assistant for public liaison, HUD Secretary Samuel Pierce, Transportation Secretary Drew Lewis, Thaddeus Garrett, the vice president's adviser on domestic policy.
And why not that kind of draw? Florida Hispanics in particular were apparently big for Reagan. "I'm the only Latin chairman in the Republican party in the United States!" proclaimed attorney Robert Godoy, chairman of the Republican Party of Dad County, Fla. Eighty-two percent of the Hispanic voters in Florida went for Reagan, according to Mario Elgarresta, executive director of the Reagan-Bush Hispanic campaign, now a consultant at AID. There were a lot of new political appointees there. ("Any word on your position?" asked one ambassador-to-be of a Hispanic businessman.)
The sea of Hispanic Republicans was of the standard Republican profile found at standard Republican parties in Washington: dark pinstripe suit, a job that could make you rich -- investment banker, lawyer, businessman -- believer in the threat of communism in Latin America. And their belief has a personal twist -- a lot of last night's crowd left Cuba about 21 years ago as Fidel Castro was coming in.
"There's a Cuban mafia here." said Ana Colomar O'Brien, who left Cuba 12 years ago and is now co-chair of Republican Hispanics in Virginia.
Many approve of Reagan's immigration proposals, which would allow many illegal aliens to stay but would require certain criteria to be met. "I still think there are some things to be worked out though," said O'Brien. Roberto Casas, a real estate broker in Dade County, likes the proposal. "It will stop immigration of undeserved people," he said.
"The Hispanics worked darn hard on this campaign," said Lewis,, who drew a barrage of television cameras and questions about the air-triffic controllers strike. "I'm not optimistic," he said of the walkout. "Well, the strike is over at 11 in the morning because we're going to start looking for replacements, which we don't want to have to do."
Meanwhile, Dole tried to make a tour of the room before leaving for a 7:30 party for presidential counselor Ed Meese, and Nofziger was besieged by guests. "There's a fake Latino," said Nofziger, pointing out John Bohn, U.S. direcotr-designate of the Asian Development Bank.
"I show up in the darnedest places, don't I?" Bohn replied.
Talk ran the usual cocktail party gamut -- but in two languages, English and Spanish.
"There's a compatibility between the Hispanic philosophy and the Republican philosophy and the Republican philosophy," said Henry Zuniga, vice president of Market Growth Inc., standing just a few feet away from the portrait of a smiling George Bush, on whose behalf he worked. "Work ethic, strength in family, patriotism, do-it-for-yourself instead of having someone do it for you. All that is part of the Republican philosophy.