Adversity Is My Angel: The Life and Career of Raúl H. Castro

Adversity Is My Angel: The Life and Career of Raúl H. Castro

Adversity Is My Angel: The Life and Career of Raúl H. Castro

Adversity Is My Angel: The Life and Career of Raúl H. Castro


Raúl H. Castro was the first Hispanic governor of Arizona, ambassador to El Salvador, Bolivia, and Argentina, lawyer, judge, and teacher. Born in Mexico in 1916, he moved with his family to a small mining community in Arizona in 1926. His earliest memories include collecting cactus fruit in the desert for food. His childhood served as a metaphor for Mexican and American attitudes of mutual suspicion and distrust. Castro, nevertheless, defied the odds and, thanks to an athletic scholarship, entered Arizona State Teachers College where he graduated in 1939. By then an American citizen, he worked for the U.S. State Department as a foreign service officer at Agua Prieta, Sonora and then entered the University of Arizona College of Law. He was admitted to the Arizona bar in 1949. After practicing law in Tucson for several years, he became deputy Pima County attorney. In 1954, he was elected county attorney and served until 1958, when he became a Pima County Superior Court Judge. President Lyndon Johnson appointed Castro U.S. ambassador to Salvador in 1964 and to Bolivia in 1969. Castro was elected governor on the Democratic Party ticket in 1974 but an appointment as ambassador to Argentina interrupted his term. Raul Castro's story suggests much about the human spirit, the ability to overcome institutional and personal prejudice, and the hope inherent in the American dream.


Raúl H. Castro’s unlikely but distinguished professional career suggests the adversity inherent in his humble beginnings only hardened his resolve and strengthened his determination. He was born into grinding poverty and minority status on the US-Mexico border, but eventually overcame those obstacles to become, among other titles, Arizona’s first Hispanic governor. Castro’s story, which suggests much about the human spirit and the hope of the American Dream, is one that ought to be told.

In December of 2000 Henry Zipf and Ben Williams Jr., longtime friends of Castro, met to discuss the possibilities of writing his memoir. The men hoped to explore his remarkable memory by conducting a series of interviews with Castro. Their goal: the preservation of the full and rich memories from a varied and interesting life and illustrious career.

Some of Castro’s earliest memories were of his poor immigrant mother sending him into the southern Arizona desert to collect cactus fruit to feed the family. During his childhood, he experienced racial prejudice, demeaning comments, and heard repeatedly that he would spend his life in the southern Arizona copper mines. Castro’s childhood serves as a metaphor for Mexican and American attitudes of mutual suspicion and distrust along the US-Mexico border.

Yet, in spite of such a disadvantaged beginning, Castro found a way to get an education and embark on his path to the prominent position he holds today, beginning as a teacher, then a lawyer, then Pima County attorney, superior court judge of Pima County, the governor of Arizona, and American ambassador to El Salvador, Bolivia, and Argentina. Though Castro suffered innumerable instances of social and racial discrimination, he overcame institutional and personal prejudice to attain the livelihood he desired. Raúl Castro’s life and career serve as dual role models, not only to Mexican Americans, but to all Americans.

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