Demo­crat ris­ing star hopes to be US’ first His­panic pres­i­dent

The Straits Times - - WORLD -

SAN AN­TO­NIO • Mr Ju­lian Cas­tro, the tele­genic for­mer mayor of San An­to­nio, Texas, and Obama-era Cab­i­net mem­ber, launched his bid to be­come the na­tion’s first His­panic pres­i­dent last Satur­day, em­pha­sis­ing a mes­sage of hope and di­ver­sity at a time when Amer­i­cans are locked in an­gry de­bate over im­mi­gra­tion and bor­der se­cu­rity.

“I am a can­di­date for the pres­i­dent of the United States,” Mr Cas­tro, 44, told a crowd in San An­to­nio’s his­toric Guadalupe Plaza, dur­ing a speech that fre­quently in­voked the im­mi­grant her­itage that brought his fam­ily to the US from Mex­ico.

Of­ten called a ris­ing star in the Demo­cratic Party, Mr Cas­tro, who was Mr Barack Obama’s hous­ing sec­re­tary, and the youngest mem­ber of that Cab­i­net, is ex­pected to be part of a di­verse field of can­di­dates ea­ger to chal­lenge Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

At a time when the fed­eral gov­ern­ment has been partly shut down over Mr Trump’s de­mand for funds to build a wall on the Mex­i­can bor­der, Mr Cas­tro sounded a con­trast­ing mes­sage.

He said San An­to­nio, a city that is nearly two-thirds His­panic, “rep­re­sents Amer­ica’s fu­ture: di­verse, fast-grow­ing, op­ti­mistic”.

“Yes, we must have bor­der se­cu­rity, but there is a smart and hu- mane way to do it. And there is no way in hell that caging chil­dren is keep­ing us safe,” he said.

“We say no to build­ing a wall and say yes to build­ing com­mu­nity,” he added, to roars from the crowd.

Mr Cas­tro’s twin brother, Joaquin, who in­tro­duced him last Satur­day, is a con­gress­man.

The two rode to the event to­gether on the same bus line that once took them to pub­lic school.

Mr Cas­tro is the third can­di­date with a Latino back­ground to seek the pres­i­dency in re­cent years, after two Repub­li­cans, Se­na­tor Ted Cruz of Texas and Mr Marco Ru­bio of Flor­ida, un­suc­cess­fully faced Mr Trump in that party’s 2016 pri­mary cam­paign.

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