Mendoza is a smuggler who had helped Fermin Ordoñez defect from Cuba.
He had promised Ordoñez that he would get his wife and son out of Cuba for $40,000. But when Ordoñez came to him with the money, he said that the price had gone up and that he could only get one of them out, not both. When Ordoñez asked him where he would get the extra cash from Mendoza reminded him that this was the land of opportunity. Ordoñez was finally able to get his family back without the help of Mendoza.