Tatiana Pagés-Cortiñas is an emerging writer, daughter of a Catalonian father and a Chilean mother. She was raised in Chile, Bolivia, Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic and has a Spanish passport. She worked and lived in Chicago, Colombia, Barcelona, London and now lives in Manhattan with her husband and 24-year-old daughter. By living in all these culturally diverse places she was able to experience and connect with the life of a spy.
A Bachelor in Communication Arts from University of Illinois/Urbana-Champaign and Universidad de Barcelona. Tatiana comes from an entrepreneurial background using the power of strategy and design thinking as gateway to innovation and writing stories. Her branding expertise in cross-cultural markets enables her to breach the threshold of storytelling from strategy to fiction. She has been a faculty member of the Altos de Chavon School of Design - Parsons affiliated for 5 years and with her design talent and concern for the environment had created the “Origomu” movement transforming debris into Objet-Trouve Artwear inspiring more than 500 designers in 25 countries. She converted Origomu into a Business Model for Women in Prison teaching more than 200 inmates in New York, Colombia and Dominican Republic.
Tatiana’s writing skills began by developing more than 20 Strategy’s Rationals and articles such as “the Life of Charles Bluhdorn”. She then moved to storytelling by getting immersed in workshops with James Bonnet in France plus three years of weekly classes with him through Skype. Bonnet was elected twice to the Board of Directors of the Writer’s Guild of America and recently was honored for his contribution to the hit TV “Barney Miller”. His book “Stealing Fire from the Gods” was Tatiana’s platform and guide for her book. The personal yet distant involvement of Tatiana allowed her to capture the essence of the story from within and from afar. Her background as a marketing specialist and activist designer make her an outstanding storyteller, captivating the reader beyond the fascinating plot with the richness of the photography and the sensory descriptions make you feel present at the scene. Tatiana's narrative non-fiction book, "The Admiral, The Ballerina and Mr. Switche" is a story within a story about her husband, Alberto Tomas Cortinas.
Alberto's mother, Olga Estrella Martinez, was a classic ballerina in addition to being a spy, and his father Tomas Cortinas was an admiral in Trujillo’s Fighting Navy. Olga's father was also the former President of the Dominican Republic, who died of suspicious causes. Olga always believed he'd been poisoned by Trujillo.
The "Mr. Switche" in the title refers to the code name Alberto heard throughout his childhood. His parents were always secreting mysterious characters into their house, who were part of the FBI and CIA teams they worked with. They told their son that they would call these visitors "Mr. Switche,” and when Mr. Switche was coming, he was to go to his room.
Over the course of the book, Alberto learns his family legacy, bit by bit, sometimes brought to tears by the double-edged nature of his father, who was a womanizer, an assassin, and an egotist, in addition to being a hero. As she uncovers the truth about the family, the author begins to worry about her husband’s mental health, and tells him she will stop her research. He urges her to continue. A work that uncovers a man's truths through the hidden lives of his parents who, for decades, were double agents working for the CIA and FBI, involved in missions that changed the landscape of recent history. Much of the story spans three decades in the Caribbean, Latin America and Europe during the Cold War. All of his life, Alberto had baffling memories from childhood that he could not make sense of. Upon the death of his father, he is called back to Santo Domingo to help his mother shut down their massive estate, a 45,000-square-foot property. While dismantling the house, Alberto goes into his mother’s dressing room and sees a strange compartment built into the wall. He opens it to find a cache of U.S. military-grade weapons and a box with his mother's initials on it. Inside the box is a pistol. He is stunned and has opened a Pandora's box that will lead him, thanks to the investigative skills of his wife, to finally unearth the secret lives of his parents and the mysteries of his own childhood.
"The Admiral, the Ballerina and Mr. Switche" reads like a spy novel but is a work of narrative nonfiction. Women will be astounded by the outrageous courage of Olga, who used her pregnancy and domestic life to disguise her work as a spy in order to take down one of the world's bloodiest dictators. They will also be enthralled by her husband, Tomas, a James Bond-like character who worked for the dictator and was then imprisoned by him, released, and eventually instrumental in bringing him down. Tomas was both a hero and a villain, in the eyes of his son, who knew his ways as a womanizer and manipulator who sometimes used his children as pawns.
A true story based on the author's interviews with living sources, eyewitness account, archival research, and her husband Alberto's memories. Documentation includes CIA and FBI papers signed by Allen Dulles, J. Edgar Hoover and others, who are also key characters in this tale.
The Admiral, The Ballerina and Mr. Switche
My name is Tatiana Pagés-Cortiñas, I have been married for more than 25 years to Alberto Tomás Cortiñas Estrella. Code-named “Chacho”, he was a hostage-alibi of his father, Ex-Admiral of the Dominican Navy Tomás Cortiñas Criado; a CIA and FBI double-agent, a hero, a Casanova, and a spy together with his wife Olga Estrella Martinez, the daughter of a poisoned Ex-President. For years, Chacho was exposed to unusual people and situations and six years ago, when we started connecting the dots, we discovered this amazing story.
“The Admiral, The Ballerina and Mr. Switche”, is a conceptual “ménage à trois.” This couple’s romance was interlaced with espionage hidden behind their Admiral and Ballerina roles and with Mr. Switche, a code-name for the US undercover agents and entities behind their missions. Strategy was the link that connected these three unexpected allies. Led by several CIA chiefs and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, they were spies in dangerous missions starting with the Era of Dominican Dictator Rafael Leonidas Trujillo, through The Dominican Revolution of 1965 and continuing with other intelligence operations such as the Anti-Castro Cuban rebels in Miami; the Bay of Pigs invasion; the assassinations of Argentine communist icon Che Guevara, Dominican Revolutionary Caamaño Deñó and Chilean Socialist President Allende; and the Red Brigades in Europe in the 60's and 70's.
It is the story of a man and a woman "captive" in an unforgiving time, interpreting contrasting roles in the different layers of society. A story of the confluence of militia and art, equidistant to disdain and injustice, a story of love and the adversities of the everyday life. It explores the intrigue and strategy in a stage full of terror and elegance under bloody dictatorships both military as well as communist. It is a true story based on real people's stories, with their dreams, their fears and double standards.
31 oral history interviews, 400 photographs (authorized/owned), about 300 books and articles about the characters and friends prove that the official story, although widespread, still contains seducing secrets.
The book is first written in English for it is a global story, a human story.
The Admiral, The Ballerina and Mr. Switche2023