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The Republican National Hispanic Assembly is an Americanmarker political organization founded in 1967 which seeks to promote Hispanic issues and interests within the Republican Party, and the Party's interests and candidates within the Hispanic population. The group is partially an outgrowth of the Spanish Speaking Advisory Committee of the Republican National Committee, which itself was created as a response to successful efforts to attract Hispanic voters to the presidential candidacy of Richard Nixon.


RNHA formation

In 1967, an informal meeting was held in Washington, DCmarker by thirteen Hispanic men. As one participant, Francisco Vega, later recalled: "... the meeting came about by word of mouth... we were from Florida, California, Texas, New Jersey, Michigan, and several other states...." The purpose of the gathering was to discuss how they could increase Hispanic political involvement. Although all of men intimated some kind of affiliation with the Democrats, none of the them felt especially attached to any political party.

Having had their offers to organize some kind of Hispanic outreach rebuffed by both the Democratic and Republican Party's national offices, the dejected group returned to their hotel. Eventually, the gathering dwindled down to five: Ben Fernandez, Manuel Lujan, Fernando Oaxaca, Martin Castillo, and Vega. These last attendees continued to talk, bonded over their common WWII service and political ideologies, and, eventually, formed the Republican National Hispanic Council. Fernandez was selected as its first president. The next year, the name of the organization was changed to the Republican National Hispanic Assembly with Fernandez taking up the title of national chairman.

Without formal acknowledgment from the Republican Party, the group immediately began to organize chapters in their home and surrounding states. They also managed to raise more than $400,000 by the end of 1968 which they presented to astonished Party officials. Relations between the two political entities soon warmed considerably.

RNC affiliation

President Ford with Raul Espinoza, RNHA's first executive director, 1974
As part of its 1972 re-election campaign strategy, the Nixon Administration sought to increase Hispanic electoral participation. In addition to others, key RNHA personnel were tapped to assist in this endeavor and the Spanish Speaking Committee for the Re-Election of President Nixon was formed. This committee has been credited an integral role in garnering more than 35% of the Hispanic vote for the President- a vast improvement over the previous three election cycles where the Republican candidate averaged only 10%. Additionally, Fernandez and Vega occupied several important positions within Nixon's re-election campaign, in particular, the Hispanic Finance Committee. Chaired by Fernandez, the HFC raised over $250,000 for the President in 1972. Later that year, newly-appointed RNC chairman George H. W. Bush began to lay the groundwork for a more permanent organization to woo and retain Hispanic voters.

In April, 1973, Bush authorized the formation of the Spanish Speaking Advisory Committee; Castillo became its national chairman. In meetings held with the SSAC in Crystal City, Virginiamarker from July 11 to July 13, 1974, the RNHA was formally recognized and chartered by the RNC (it is also from this point that the RNHA dates its existence for organizational purposes). Since that time, it has been the only Hispanic Republican group officially affiliated with the national Republican Party.

The RNHA began increasing their public profile by holding Annual Banquets starting in 1976. President Gerald Ford delivered the keynote address at the first such event on July 29. At that time, Oaxaca was serving as an Associate Director in the Office of Management and Budget. A "Hispanic Heritage Leadership Breakfast" series was added in 1995.


In 1998, the RNHA's Central Florida chapter- citing "leadership changes"- disassociated from the national organization. Led by Nancy Acevedo, the splinter group changed its name to the Republican National Hispanic Alliance. Three years later, the Alliance became incorporated and changed its name again to the Republican National Hispanic Alliance of the United States. Also in 2001, the RNHA- along with other groups such as the College Republicans- disassociated from the RNC under "party restructuring." This was prompted by pending legislation (eventually passed in 2002 as the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act) that would have made it harder for the RNHA to raise funds if it remained part of the RNC.

Recent developments

The RNHA ran into financial difficulties in 2007 due to declining membership concomittant with declining Hispanic numbers within the Republican Party. However, chairman Danny Vargas reported that new fundraising efforts were underway. Additionally, a new executive director, Bettina Inclan, was hired to revitalize the group's image.

Nevertheless, attempts at increasing Hispanic participation at the highest levels of the RNC were stymied in 2009. The leaders of several prominent Republican and Republican-leaning Hispanic organizations- including the RNHA- complained in a March 6 letter to RNC chairman Michael Steele of the situation. Despite assurances in a follow-up meeting, RNHA's Vargas and others would report that no movement had taken place as of a few months later.

Hispanic leaders also decried the state of Hispanics in the Party at a RNHA conference entitled "Future of Hispanics in the GOP." Citing the debate over- and the Party's stance on- immigration as the single most important issue driving away potential voters, Vargas stated: "We know that the party will not recover its majority until we get this right."


The mission of the RNHA is to increase Hispanic participation in electoral politics at all levels as well as boost Hispanic membership in the Republican Party. Furthermore, the RNHA seeks to promote the philosophy and political ideology of the Party within the Hispanic community. Finally, the RNHA desires to create and sustain an association of Hispanic Republican leaders. To that end, a series of objectives- as posted on their official web site- were formulated:


  • To promote the core principles and values of Republicanism throughout the Hispanic community in the United States

  • To develop and maintain a strong, effective and informed Republican Hispanic constituency throughout the country.

  • To recruit and encourage qualified, Hispanic Americans, as registered Republicans, to seek office at all levels of government.

  • To ensure candidates who represent the true values of Republicanism are elected to office and continue to represent those values.

  • To adopt resolutions and policy positions on local, state and national issues and to seek to implement these resolutions and policy positions through networks of the Republican Party and other appropriate means.

  • To promote and encourage civic participation

  • To insure the participation of citizens of Hispanic heritage in the American political process and in all levels of the Republican Party.

Past Chairs

  • 1967-1978 Benjamin Fernandez
  • 1978-1983 Fernando Oaxaca
  • 1983-1985 Dr. Tirso del Junco
  • 1985-1987 Fernando C. de Baca
  • 1987-1989 Catalina Vásquez Villalpando (resigned to assume the post of U.S. Treasurer)
  • 1989-1989 Al Villalobos (acting- completed Villalpando's term)
  • 1989-1993 Jose Manuel Casanova
  • 1993-1995 Alicia Casanova
  • 1995-1998 Antonio Monroig Malatrasi
  • 1998-2001 Jose "Cheo" Rodriguez
  • 2001-2005 Massey Villareal
  • 2005-2007 Pedro Celis, PhD
  • 2007-2009 Raul "Danny" Vargas

See also

List of Latino Republicans

Republican National Committee


External links

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