Raul Cas­tro, Ari­zona’s 1st His­panic gover­nor, dies


Raul Hec­tor Cas­tro, Ari­zona’s only His­panic gover­nor and an Amer­i­can am­bas­sador to three coun­tries, died Fri­day. He was 98.

Fam­ily spokesman James Garcia said Cas­tro died in his sleep in San Diego, where he was in hospice care.

Cas­tro was a self-made man, the em­bod­i­ment of the Amer­i­can dream. Born in Mex­ico, he over­came poverty and dis­crim­i­na­tion to grad­u­ate from uni­ver­sity and launch a suc­cess­ful ca­reer in pol­i­tics and diplo­macy.

“Amer­ica is the land of op­por­tu­nity,” Cas­tro told The As­so­ci­ated Press in 2010. “Here, one can ac­com­plish what­ever they want to be. But you’ve got to work for it.”

Grow­ing up on the U.S.-Mex­ico bor­der near Dou­glas, Ari­zona, Cas­tro saw dis­crim­i­na­tion around him. He said he won­dered why the His­pan­ics were la­bor­ers and none de­liv­ered the mail or worked in of­fices.

It didn’t seem right that the His­panic chil­dren had to walk kilo­me­ters to school ev­ery day while the white kids would wave from a pass­ing school bus, he said.

He set out to beat the odds. When he couldn’t get a job as a teacher -- schools didn’t hire ed­u­ca­tors of Mex­i­can de­scent back then -- he be­came a drifter for a while, work­ing as a farm hand and boxing here and there.

He landed a job with the U.S. Con­sulate in the bor­der city of Agua Pri­eta, Mex­ico. Af­ter five years, a se­nior of­fi­cial told him he was do­ing a great job but had no fu­ture in the for­eign ser­vice -- he had a His­panic name and no Ivy League ed­u­ca­tion. Cas­tro quit and moved to Tucson.

A law school dean at the Uni­ver­sity of Ari­zona told Cas­tro he wouldn’t be ac­cepted be­cause Cas­tro couldn’t af­ford to quit a job teach­ing Span­ish. Be­sides, the dean said, His­panic stu­dents didn’t do well in law school.

Un­de­terred, Cas­tro went to the uni­ver­sity pres­i­dent, who con­vinced the dean to give Cas­tro an op­por­tu­nity to prove him­self. He ex­celled and went on to be elected the first His­panic county at­tor­ney and later the first His­panic judge in Pima County Su­pe­rior Court.

Born in Cananea, Mex­ico, in 1916, Cas­tro grew up in Ari­zona. He was the sec­ond-youngest in a fam­ily with 12 chil­dren -- 11 boys and one girl. His fa­ther was a union leader forced out of Mex­ico for or­ga­niz­ing a strike at the mine in Cananea.

His fa­ther died when Cas­tro was 12, and his mother be­came a mid­wife to feed the fam­ily. She de­liv­ered ba­bies for the Mex­i­can fam­i­lies around Dou­glas in ex­change for flower, corn, beans and other sta­ples.

Cas­tro served as U.S. am­bas­sador to three Latin Amer­i­can coun­tries un­der three U.S. pres­i­dents. Lyn­don John­son sent him to El Sal­vador, where Cas­tro be­came known as “Yan­kee Cas­tro” to dif­fer­en­ti­ate him from the other Raul Cas­tro -- the brother Fidel Cas­tro.

John­son later sent him to Bo­livia, and he stayed for a short time un­der Richard Nixon be­fore re­turn­ing to Ari­zona and mak­ing the first of two bids for gover­nor.

Cas­tro was gover­nor for two and a half years be­fore resigning when Pres­i­dent Jimmy Carter ap­pointed him am­bas­sador to Ar­gentina.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Taiwan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.