The accountant Jorge Julian Castillo passed away some two or three weeks ago. He and his wife, Socorro, have been my neighbours, one house up to the north on Seashore Drive in Buttonwood Bay, for some ten or twelve years, I would say. Julian bought the house which had been built and owned by the late Ray Lightburn, and I think Julian’s purchase transaction took place through the Holy Redeemer Credit Union (HRCU).
I visited Julian’s home at the time of his passing, and spoke briefly with his wife and youngest daughter (of four), and told them of the time Julian, the late Neil Garbutt, and I had formed a singing trio to perform in a school fund-raising variety show during our senior year at St. John’s College. (I am sure we were not very good. We were accompanied by a guitarist named Marin, can’t remember his first name, from Ambergris Caye I think, and we sang two Spanish songs – Crei and Mas Alla.) You see, Julian and I had been in class for six years together, from 1959 to 1965, all through SJC and SJC Sixth Form.
I had thought briefly of writing in this newspaper about Julian’s death, but I had expected THE REPORTER, very much a Roman Catholic newspaper, to feature Julian’s passing in a prominent way. This is because Julian had been a very devout Roman Catholic his entire life, and a highly respectable member of conventional Belizean society. I think he had been President of the Belize Scout Association for some time. But, there was nothing in THE REPORTER, and that left me quite puzzled.
My life and Julian’s had taken totally separate directions after I went to America to study in 1965 on a State Department scholarship. Julian had won the Second British Honduras Open Scholarship that same year, and had travelled to the United Kingdom to do his accounting. When I returned to Belize in 1968 and soon became involved in black power, UBAD, and socio-political controversy, Julian was still in England studying. When he returned to Belize in the early 1970’s, we did not make any kind of contact. I had been very critical of the Roman Catholic hierarchy’s educational system, the one which had educated me, most notably with respect to the absence of African and Mayan history considerations, and that dispute cost me all my Catholic friends and acquaintances from Holy Redeemer Boys and SJC days.
Decades and decades went by, and Julian’s and my paths never, ever crossed. Marion Paulino, a classmate at SJC Sixth Form in 1964/65, brought up his name a couple times during the very few occasions we ourselves had been in contact (Marion being a Belmopan resident from way back then), but it was not until Julian became my neighbour that we had actually held a conversation. Four and more decades had passed since 1965, and it was as if we had been living in two different worlds.
You will understand, then, some of my hesitation to speak familiarly in this column about Julian when he left us. I wanted to hear the Catholic newspaper do honor to his memory. That seemed right to me. It didn’t happen.
Now, Julian Castillo was the eldest son of the late Justo Castillo, a senior civil servant who had been a member of Roman Catholic and People’s United Party (PUP) royalty back there in the 50s and 60s. Mr. Justo’s brothers included Monsignor Facundo Castillo, a highly rated Catholic priest in those days, and Rudy Castillo, considered PUP Leader George Price’s right hand man when it came to information and propaganda. Mr. Rudy had been hated by the PUP’s Opposition personalities back then, and often referred to, with great animosity, as “Goebbels,” who had been the propaganda expert for Adolf Hitler’s regime in Nazi Germany.
When I discussed Julian’s death with a Catholic friend in Canada a couple days ago, he reminded me, with substantial insight, of the fact that there had been that somewhat sensational division amongst leading Roman Catholics in Belize when Harry Lawrence, Net Vasquez, Paul Rodriguez, and Manuel Esquivel (along with the Anglican Curl Thompson) formed the Liberal Party in 1972 to fight against Mr. Price’s ruling PUP. Previous to 1972, the feeling amongst most Belizeans had been that to be a Roman Catholic was akin to being a PUP, one reason for that being that PUP Leader Price had been a Catholic seminarian for a few years in his pre-political years, and was known to be very close to the Catholic leadership in Belize after he became PUP Leader in 1956 and Maximum Leader here for many years.
Well, it seemed to me that I had heard during the Esquivel years that Julian was friendly with the UDP, but that suggestion must be considered hearsay. And, what difference did all the party politics make anyway? It meant that I had hesitated to pay my respects publicly to Julian and his family at the time of his death, and it now has to be done in a belated manner.
The one thing I will say, in closing, is that Julian and I were close enough during school days that he told me of his discomfort with his childhood situation. Mr. Justo’s first wife, Julian’s mother, had died after Julian was born. I’m not sure how soon afterwards, but Julian had grown up in a home with a stepmother, who gave birth to Mr. Justo’s other children. Let’s put it this way. Because of his circumstances, Julian had not been a favourite child as he was growing up. I would say that he did very well in life, and I give him respect.
Father: Justo Leon Castillo
Mother: Raquel Castillo
Stepmother: Elba Sara Castillo
Brother: Dr. Greg Castillo
Wife: Socorro Castillo
Daughters: Raquel Castillo, Miriam Castillo, Dr. Julianni Zaiden, Marta Castillo
Sons-in-law: Felipe Castillo and Robert Zaiden
Grandchildren: Julian Castillo, Lucia Sanchez, Amanda and Lydia Zaiden and Celine Castillo
Siblings: Orlando Raul Castillo, Marta Castillo, Lily Bowman, Susie Castillo and Nancy Moore
Brothers-in-law: Dr. Allan Moore, Moises Zaldivar, Rene Zaldivar
Sisters-in-law: Rosa Pariente, Effie Dodigovich, Nellie Gonzalez, Glennis Williams
A host of nieces and nephews.