Two years after his election, Antón Castillo has welcomed us in his palace. El Presidente shared his vision for the future of Yara and answered our toughest questions, proving that even at 63, “The Lion" can still roar!
Interview: Guillermo Barbès. Photos: Pedro Coñado.
After a thorough search by a world-class security team, we are taken to the beautiful winter lounge. Exactly on time, Presidente Antón Castillo enters with a confident stride.
As always, El Presidente is smartly dressed in the colours of Yara. His hair impeccably styled. As we shake his hand, we can’t help but notice that he smells of a warm tropical breeze, with just a hint of spiced rum. We even catch a hint of the famous smile that melted the hearts of an entire nation. This is a man who is still at the top of his game.
La Voz de Yara: Señor Presidente, thank you for receiving us.
Antón Castillo: Thank you. I am always glad to speak to the people of Yara. My people.
LVDY: Señor Presidente, you have now been elected for two years. How close have you come to fulfilling your election promises?
Antón Castillo: I made only one promise to the people of Yara. Paradise. Look around you; our armed forces have never been stronger. The words ‘loyalty’ and ‘duty’ mean something again. Our fields are full of workers, planting and harvesting our greatest resource. With sweat, determination, and their bare hands, they are sowing the seeds of the future in Yara’s rich soil. This resource is bringing the nations of the world to our door. They beg, they plead, they offer us billions, for a taste of our miracle.
Does that sound like paradise to you?
LVDY: Your father, Gabriel Castillo, led Yara through a golden age. Can you tell us more?
Antón Castillo: Yes, my father built Yara into a paradise. You could say it’s in my blood. Under his presidency, we became the jewel of the Caribbean. Famous actors, politicians, and writers, came from all over the world to enjoy Yara’s culture, its beauty. Esperanza was the capital of the world, and Hotel Paraiso its glittering palace.
My father was a visionary, a true lion, but even lions can be brought down by hyenas. The 1967 revolution destroyed everything he had built. Santos murdered my father and handed Yara over to the ideologists and the parasites. It was… an important lesson for me. One that my mother made sure I never forget.
LVDY: How do you respond to people who say you’ve lost control of Isla Santuario?
Antón Castillo: Where did you hear that? It is important to know who is saying these things. As for your answer; it is a falsehood. A lie. My father placed the greatest weight on always telling the truth, and I would have been punished, and rightly so, for speaking as you just did.
LVDY: Would you describe your election as a soft revolution?
Antón Castillo: No. There is nothing weak, or ‘soft’, about what I am doing. I am the revolution Yara needs.
LVDY: El Presidente, you say the armed forces have never been stronger. The people are happy to be protected, but they want to know what threat they are being protected from.
Antón Castillo: Our country is under attack. Traitors and degenerates are trying to tear apart the core of our society, all in the name of ‘Libertad’. These guerrillas are nothing more than terrorists, and they are being dealt with by our young men and women in uniform.
I will tell you the real enemy of Yara. It is chaos. There are a thousand voices out there, all screaming lies. How are Yarans supposed to find the truth in all that noise? Our soldiers are there to remind people that there is only one voice that they need to listen to. Mine.
LVDY: Let's turn to your son Diego, if you will...
Antón Castillo: With pleasure! Diego is my pride, my blood. Now, I can be hard on him like any father should, but he is strong and resilient. Like his father and grandfather, Diego is a true lion. One day I will be gone, and when that time comes, Presidente Diego Castillo will pick up the mantle and ensure that we all reach paradise.
LVDY: We can sense that the happiness of your son, just like the happiness of your country, means a lot to you.
Antón Castillo: That is because they are one and the same. Diego Castillo is Yara.