Governor Raul Castro

More from this show

HORIZONTE wraps up the Governor Raul Castro series. Hear what he has to say about his career in politics, and his views on political issues in the United States and in Arizona.

José Cárdenas:
Welcome to Horizonte. Good evening, I'm José Cárdenas. With rising energy costs Arizona officials are urging the federal government to release emergency funds and get its fair share of money to help low income households pay their utility bills during the summer heat. Also, the conclusion of our two-part series on former governor Raul Castro and what Senator Barack Obama needs to do to target the Hispanic vote. All this coming up next on Horizonte.

Announcer:
Funding for Horizonte is provided by SRP. SRP's business is water and power. But our dedication to the community doesn't stop there. SRP, delivering more than power.

José Cárdenas:
The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program known as LIHEAP helps pay the winter heating bills or summer cooling bills of low income households. The Federal Department of Health and Human Services has released $2.47 billion in LIHEAP funds for fiscal year 2008. An additional $120 million in emergency funding has yet to be distributed. Currently Arizona ranks 44th when it comes to LIHEAP funding. Today we talk about the need for federal funds to help people and families with their utility bills, is Cynthia Zwick, executive director for the Arizona Community Action Association, a Phoenix-based group that helps fight poverty. Cynthia, welcome to Horizonte.

Cynthia Zwick:
Thank you.

José Cárdenas:
Explain our ranking. I think population wise we're about the middle of the pack roughly 26th among states. Why are we 44th in terms of this LIHEAP funding?

Cynthia Zwick:
It's really connected to a funding formula that was created when the program was created in 1981 that favored cold weather states because the formula was based on population and the number of cooling or heating degree days over a period of a year, and so based on that formula, the cold weather states tend to get much more money than the warm weather states. There has been a new formula created that takes into consideration the number of hot weather days and the number of cooling degree days, so once the funding formula kicks in, once the funding kicks in to 1.97 billion, the warm weather states begin to receive more funding.

José Cárdenas:
And as I understand it if we were talking about this on a per capita basis as opposed to absolute dollars, we're even worse.

Cynthia Zwick:
We are, on a per household basis Arizona is the least funded state in the country. We're 51st behind every other state. So while there are approximately 500,000 people who are eligible in Arizona to receive these funds, we're able to serve approximately 4% of that population.

José Cárdenas:
Now as I understand it, while the amount of funding or at least our relative ranking may be no worse than it has been in other years, which is pretty dismal, the needs are greater this year than ever before. Why is that so?

Cynthia Zwick:
It's due to a number of factors. In large part it's due to the state of our economy right now. Food prices are increasing. Utility costs are going up. Gasoline prices are going up. Families that used to be just able to scrape by and be able to pay their bills are no longer able to do so. Because those costs are so high families are now starting to have to make decisions about how many meals a day they're going to eat. Whether they're going to take their medication, so everything is sort of compounded, we're really seeing an impact on families throughout the state.

José Cárdenas:
And as I understand it, if you look at the demographics, it's not just the elderly who are affected by this. You've got families with young children.

Cynthia Zwick:
We do. In fact, 79% of the households that are served with this funding are seniors that are 60 years of age or older, they're disabled, or they're households that have children that are five years of age or younger.

José Cárdenas:
How are the dollars actually used?

Cynthia Zwick:
Typically they're used in a couple of different ways. The primary way that they're being used now is to actually help pay either the actual utility bill, whether the bill is late, they can help with late fees or disconnect. They can help to prevent the disconnection of the service in the home. So what happens is a family will come in to an agency, present their past due bill or their disconnect notice, and the agency will make a payment on their behalf directly to the utility company.

José Cárdenas:
So we've got a double whammy, with rising utility costs and lower revenues for some families because of the economy being in the crisis we're in now.

Cynthia Zwick:
That's right, in fact, we're seeing from a utility standpoint we're seeing an increase in disconnections that ranges from about 36% over last year up to 64%. So with that kind of an increase, more and more families, you know, are in jeopardy of not only not eating or not paying their bills, but they're in jeopardy of losing their homes. The inability to pay your utility bill is the second leading cause of homelessness in the state. So what we're really trying to do with this funding is get an adequate amount of funding into the state that we can help sort of bridge the gap and bridge the need.

José Cárdenas:
Cynthia, I understand there's been a lot of activity in Congress or at least attempts to do something, one of those being the Warm in Summer, Cool In Winter Act that was pending just recently. What happened there?

Cynthia Zwick:
Well, there weren't enough votes to bring it to the floor for a vote, and so they were trying to get cloture on the bill which would allow a vote to take place on the actual funding, and they fell short by about six votes in the Senate. So there's still a possibility that that will reemerge and have another hearing later on, but that funding may also be included down the road in a stimulus bill. And there's a companion bill that's been introduced by Congressman Raul Grijalva that is also introducing the same amount of funding from the House side.

José Cárdenas:
And as I understand it you have Congressman Pastor, Congressman Mitchell, and Senator Kyl working to get these funds freed up. What are they doing?

Cynthia Zwick:
We do. The separate issue is the issue of the emergency funds, due to an error at Department of Health and Human Services, there's $26 million that's set aside on an annual basis, and that money now will not be coming out in leverage or sort of a bonus to the state. But that money can be released on an ongoing basis at the administration's discretion, so Senator Kyl and Congressman Pastor and Grijalva and Congressman Franks are working directly with the administration, Secretary Leavitt at Department of Health and Human Services, to get the money released, to make up the loss to Arizona, and to get a fair share of the total pool of money so that we can serve more families.

José Cárdenas:
Cynthia, we've only got a few seconds left. What happens if we don't get the money?

Cynthia Zwick:
What happens is families are continuing to have to make difficult choices. They're not having air in their homes. The ultimate effect is that they could actually lose their lives. There are more heat-related deaths than cold-related deaths, and we know that last year 51 people in Arizona died due to the heat.

José Cárdenas:
I did want to ask you one other question. There are restrictions, as I understand, on the use of the funds. I think one of the qualifications you have to be a U.S. citizen?

Cynthia Zwick:
You do, you have to be a resident of Arizona if you're to receive the funds here. You have to have a valid account in your name with the utility, and you must be a U.S. citizen.

José Cárdenas:
Are there any other requirements?

Cynthia Zwick:
You have to be at 150% of poverty, is the financial eligibility. And what that means is for a family of four you have an annual income of about $32,000 a year.

José Cárdenas:
If things go as well as we can expect in Congress, how much money are we talking about being freed up for Arizona?

Cynthia Zwick:
The immediate free up is there's a total pool of $26 million. We could get all of that or we could get none of that. We'd love to have a fair share of that.

José Cárdenas:
And the likelihood is?

Cynthia Zwick:
Very good that we'll receive some of that funding.

José Cárdenas:
We're going to have to end it there, but Cynthia Zwick of the Arizona Community Action Association, thanks for joining us on Horizonte.

Cynthia Zwick:
Thank you.

José Cárdenas:
Tonight we wrap up our series on former governor Raul Castro, the only Hispanic elected to Arizona's top office. Nadine Arroyo-Rodriguez talked to Governor Castro about his career in politics and views on current political issues in the United States and here in Arizona.

Raul Castro:
I have been the prosecutor for about 10 years, a judge in Superior Court for many years, Governor of the State of Arizona and a diplomat for 14 years in Latin America and people ask me invariably about all the jobs, what job do you like the most? I said, "I'm retired and I spend 60% of my time going to elementary schools, talking to fourth, fifth, and sixth graders." I like to motivate young people. I like to walk in the classroom, look at the children, look at their eyes, and let them see and look, don't tell me that you don't have a chance. You do have a chance. You must get an education, you must go to school. If I was able to do it, so can you. But you've got to get your education. And this is the time I enjoy the most, working with young people.

Nadine Arroyo-Rodriguez:
Raul H. Castro was born in Cananea, Mexico, in 1916 to Mexican-born parents. Francisco Castro, a union supporter and Rosario Acosta-Castro, a midwife. Castro endured much discrimination in his youth. He graduated with a teaching degree but because he was Mexican he couldn't get a teaching job, so to make a living he took on grueling physical labor, working on farm fields. He returned to Tucson looking for work worthy of his degree. And he did. He was able to get a job with the U.S. State Department in Mexico's American Consulate. This was his first experience in the field of law. He saved enough money to attend the University of Arizona College of Law. In 1949 he received his juris doctor degree and was admitted to the Arizona bar.

Raul Castro:
The only way I felt that I could -- change could occur from difficulties in life was getting involved in politics.

Nadine Arroyo-Rodriguez:
Castro ran for office for the first time in 1951 and won. He was elected Deputy Pima County Attorney by 65 votes. Three years later he was elected its County Attorney.

Raul Castro:
I wasn't worried about being a politician; my concern was as a prosecutor to see that justice was done. I was the Chief Prosecutor in Pima County, and I noticed that invariably every day of the week most of the people coming to jail were of Mexican descent, Hispanics. And none of them were for drinking problems. Tucson was divided from Stone Avenue West, the other bars and saloons, so the police had easy picking, just go to the bars as they came out and arrest them and Tucson east of University of Arizona on the Speedway also had bars and saloons, but those were patronized by Anglo people, not Mexican-Americans. But nobody would be arrested. So I called the Chief of Police and I said, "Look, what are we doing here? I don't -- I'm not saying that the Hispanic people shouldn't be arrested. They violated the law. But let's even the playing field. What about the east side of town, all those bars and saloons east of the University? I don't see anyone being picked up or arrested." So that changed, to even the playing field. And those were the things I could do to help out, make justice more equal to everyone.

Nadine Arroyo-Rodriguez:
In 1958 he was elected Pima County's Superior Court Judge. He often said he considered it the hardest position he ever held. And although he was becoming a rising political star within the Democratic Party, he continued to face his own race issues. Even as a judge.

Raul Castro:
I was studying my French. I had horses I worked with, western boots, Levis, straw hat, the Border Patrol stopped by and said in Spanish, "Senor, do you have a card?" I said, "No, Senor," I answered in Spanish, "I do not have a card." "Who do you work for?" "For the lady of the house, my wife." And they got out of the car ready to throw me in, figure's we got a live one right here. "I said wait a minute. I am Raul Castro. Do you see the sign in front of that gate? It says Castro Pony Farm. I happen to be Mr. Castro" and they looked at me and said, "Are you Judge Castro?" "Yes, I'm Judge Castro." "Oh, sorry." But that's life.

Nadine Arroyo-Rodriguez:
In 1964 President Lyndon B. Johnson appointed Castro to U.S. Ambassador of El Salvador. Followed by a second appointment to Ambassador of Bolivia.

Nadine Arroyo-Rodriguez:
When you were appointed by Johnson in '64 as U.S. Ambassador of El Salvador, Johnson made a request. What was that request he made to you?

Raul Castro:
Before I was named Ambassador of El Salvador, he wanted me to change my name from Raul Castro to Raul Acosta; Acosta is my mother's maiden name. And -- the dilemma was that he was running for president, President Kennedy got killed, and he felt that by using the name Raul Castro, it would impinge on his voting situation; with Fidel Castro in Cuba, it would hurt him. So he wanted to know if I would change my name. I said, "No way, José, I love my name and I'm going to keep it." And so I refused to change my name.

Nadine Arroyo-Rodriguez:
What kind of recommendations, what kind of advice did you give Lyndon Johnson during his presidency?

Raul Castro:
Well, in Latin America quite a bit, because I did work in Latin America and in fact he wanted me to go to the White House, work in the White House for him when he was in -- you know, he spent a week in Salvador at our house, with his wife and Julie and -- Lucy, the daughter. We spent a week together doing/taking care of diplomatic business, at the end of the week he said, "Look, I want you to join my staff in the White House." I said, "Mr. President, I'm a foreign service animal. I think I'll do more for my country living abroad than I would -- I didn't care for Washington -- than living in the United States." And he said, "Well, that's terrible." He said, "But I've got another thought. Check up on Bolivia, we've got problems in Bolivia, there's strikes and demonstrations, people being killed. I need somebody that's competent who knows the Spanish language and has a political background. And you are it. You are going to go to Bolivia." I said, "Mr. President you probably don't like me very well, because Bolivia's a very difficult country." He says, "No, I'm sending you there because I need you. We got problems in Bolivia, very difficult problems and I need your service." That's how I ended up in Bolivia.

Nadine Arroyo-Rodriguez:
In 1974 Raul Castro made history when he was elected the first Latino as Governor of Arizona. And to this date he has been the only Hispanic to serve in that capacity. But he didn't complete his four-year term. In 1977 President Jimmy Carter appointed Castro Ambassador of Argentina.

Nadine Arroyo-Rodriguez:
What was your advice and your counseling to President Carter in your involvement in his administration? Because he was very involved in the Latin American countries as well.

Raul Castro:
President Carter's theme was the question of human rights. When I went to Argentina, number one, let's start, President Carter came to Phoenix to visit me and I was staying at one of the motels in town. I wasn't governor yet. I was going to be sworn in as governor. The phone rang, says, "This is Jimmy Carter." I didn't know Jimmy Carter from the moon. Never heard of Jimmy Carter. He said, "Can I see you?" I said, "Mr. Carter, I am quite busy. I have a 5:00 appointment to dedicate the Plumber's Union and I would like to see you but I am rushed for time." He said, "I understand that, but I promise, it won't take more than 10 minutes." So I was shaving, getting organized, doorbell rang, it's Jimmy Carter, he had somebody else with him. And here I am rushing, trying to get to the Plumber's Union. I wasn't very courteous to him. And he said, "I know what you're going through, I used to be Governor of Georgia." Well, that was some inkling, fine. "And I'm running for President of the United States." I said, "Oh, another nut." My gosh, so I move very deftly out the door, say, "Sorry I don't have the time to talk to you, good-bye." He never gave up though. Kept calling. Took the governor's office and kept calling, he needed my help, wanted me to support him. I finally agreed to work on that campaign in the country for him, being in peanut number one, his airplane, so I worked for him and supported him. A very nice friend, very capable man, I liked him. We never gave the other team in Latin America chance and opportunity to discuss their problems. Let them feel as though they're partners; if you are partners, let them talk. Even though we weren't inclined to help them out, at least listen to them. Let them feel they are partners. And that's what we were short of. And that's the type of thing I told Jimmy Carter.

Nadine Arroyo-Rodriguez:
He continues to travel, attend speaking engagements, and share his opinions about current affairs and people.

Nadine Arroyo-Rodriguez:
In everything that is going on right now, politics, people, everything, all the changes, all the issues that are happening, what are your thoughts about them particularly let's take it back to Arizona, how Arizona is coping and dealing with the immigration issue?

Raul Castro:
I have never seen relations between Mexico and United States as poor as they are now. Something is wrong. We have lost dialogue with Latin America. We are not having diplomacy with Latin America. We are focused strictly on the Middle East, Africa, the European countries, we have forgotten our neighbors. It seems to me that if you have a neighbor, you should be concerned about the way of life of the next-door-neighbor. We are not doing that.

Nadine Arroyo-Rodriguez:
Do you believe the immigration issue is as many have said a brown issue versus an overall immigration problem that this country needs to deal with?

Raul Castro:
I think it's lack of understanding, lack of knowledge, lack of comprehension of what the world's all about.

Nadine Arroyo-Rodriguez:
Your opinion on Sheriff Arpaio, I want to know what your thoughts are about him, about his way of handling his office, and every controversy he has been involved in.

Raul Castro:
I think he ought to let the immigration, let the federal government take over and do the job of
immigration and let him worry about Maricopa County and do his job as a sheriff in Maricopa County. And not usurp into other people's jurisdictions.

Nadine Arroyo-Rodriguez:
What about the politics today? Senator Obama? Senator McCain in your own backyard? What are your thoughts about that race?

Raul Castro:
I'm very glad to see an African American running for President because the time has come that we are all Americans and capable person to do it and let the public -- let the American public vote and make their choice. I know Senator McCain quite well, he's from Arizona. I was governor, I met him. I know him well. And he's a very active individual. He has his faults like everybody else does, so he's going to have a difficult time battling. It's going to be a tough battle.

Nadine Arroyo-Rodriguez:
In June Governor Castro celebrated his 92nd birthday.

José Cárdenas:
Earlier tonight on Horizon you heard what Senator John McCain needs to do to gain more support when it comes to Latino voters, during the Democratic primary Hilary Clinton outperformed Barack Obama about 2-1. Now it's Obama's outperforming McCain by that same margin. However, Obama is working to make up ground seeded to Clinton among Latinos. Mike Sauceda tells us more about that.

Mike Sauceda:
During the Democratic Presidential primary Senator Barack Obama trailed Senator Hilary Clinton two to one among Hispanics, not only did he trail among voters, but Hilary Clinton had most of the endorsements from Hispanic elected officials locked up as well. There was talk that Hispanics did not support Obama because of race. Political Science Professor Matt Barreto of the University of Washington says Hispanics have voted for Obama.

Matt Barreto:
He actually did very well in his home state of Illinois. Not only this year in the presidential contest, he won a majority of the Latino vote in Illinois, but in previous contests when he had run for state Senate, when he had run for U.S. Congress, made a failed attempt to run for U.S. Congress, and then when he ran for U.S. Senate, he won a majority of the Latino vote in each of those contests and so he's well-known there. He's done extensive Latino outreach in Chicago and in the state of Illinois. But he hasn't carried that out to other states yet. So many other states where he was very unknown, Hilary Clinton was able to capitalize not only on her high name recognition but the endorsements that she received from people like Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa in Los Angeles, Adolfo Carreon here, our moderator here at this conference, the Foxboro President, and she received a lot of major endorsements and had those networks established in the '90s.

Barack Obama:
You can trust me when I say that I will be your partner in the White House and I will be your champion when I'm in the White House. And that's what you need.

Mike Sauceda:
Now that Obama is the presumptive nominee there are ways for him to shore up his Hispanic support, although he does lead Senator John McCain about two to one among Hispanics.

Matt Barreto:
It's well-known that Senator Hilary Clinton had a far more effective Latino outreach, including endorsements, money spent on Spanish language TV and radio, and actual door-to-door outreach and phone banking in the Latino community than did Senator Barack Obama. And so he needs to make that up, and he's starting to make inroads. He's hired many additional Latino campaign staff and if that unfolds, if that campaign unfolds, I think he'll have a chance to capitalize, because in some respects McCain is sort of in a corner. He can't come out and support the immigration reform again because he's worried that will hurt his base so Obama does have a chance to capitalize on the Latino vote. We'll see whether or not he does that. That certainly wasn't the case in the primaries.

Mike Sauceda:
Delia Garcia, a state lawmaker from Kansas, has some advice for Obama and McCain's Hispanic outreach.

Delia Garcia:
One of the important things is also with the media, the media that Latinos read and pay attention to, whether it's bilingual media or just Spanish media, but, you know, and because I'm a Democrat I've been hearing more of the Democratic side and I've had friends who are working on his campaign who have said it publicly, that he is not putting in the energy and moneys into Latino vote this year and we will see that in November, hopefully he'll get moving on that.

Matt Barreto:
I think Obama needs to get his name out there; he needs to get his name and his story. His name recognition is very low. About three weeks before the California election, before Super Tuesday, there was a poll in California and 25% of Latino registered voters said they had no opinion of Obama because they hadn't heard enough to say. This is three weeks before the election, late January, and so the rest of us say, "Wow, how can that be?" But his name recognition is low. He hasn't been in the Latino community in a state like California or Arizona or New Mexico, Nevada, he's not known in those states and Chicago he is. So he really needs to just work at some point on just getting his name recognition out. How does he do that? Investing heavily in Latino media, in both Spanish and English language markets that cater to Latino viewers and readers and getting his message out on Spanish language radio, doing interviews, Spanish language TV, news print, and I think that will serve a lot just to get his name out there and to tell his story.

Barack Obama:
We are all Americans, todos somos Americanos.

Mike Sauceda:
Whatever Obama does to increase popularity among Hispanics will open up the big lead he has over McCain in that group.

José Cárdenas:
Due to special programming here on Eight, Horizonte will be preempted next week. Thank you so much for joining us. I'm José Cárdenas. Have a great evening.

If you have questions or comments about Horizonte, please write to the addresses on the screen. Your comments may be used on a future edition of Horizonte.

Raul Castro: Former Governor of Arizona;

Barry Gibb singing (Bee Gees: In Our Own Time)
airs Feb. 24

Bee Gees: In Our Own Time

A cute little duckling with text reading: Arizona PBS Ducks in a Row Event
March 6

Getting Your Ducks in a Row to Avoid Conflict When You Are Gone

Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson
aired Feb. 23

The Highwaymen: Live at Nassau Coliseum

A photo of Henry Louis Gates Jr. and photos of his books

Join the all new PBS Books Readers Club!

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters

STAY in touch
with azpbs.org!

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters: