Politics
Julian Castro laughs during his keynote address at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. (AP Photo) Julian Castro laughs during his keynote address at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. (AP Photo)  

Julian Castro ‘doesn’t really speak Spanish’

Democrats have high hopes that last night’s keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro, can deliver Latino voters to the Democratic ticket and give them a decisive electoral majority.

Yet Castro, who played up his Mexican heritage by speaking a few lines in Spanish, admits “he doesn’t really speak Spanish,” according to a 2010 profile in The New York Times Magazine.

In 2009, Castro hired Marta Bronstein to tutor him in Spanish, recognizing that Spanish-language skills would be necessary to augment his appeal among Texas’ many Mexican-Americans.

Castro’s chief of staff, lawyer Robbie Greenblum, recommended Bronstein after meeting her in synagogue.

In his keynote address, Castro thrice said, “Que dios los bendiga,” which means “God bless you,” explaining that his grandmother would say those words as he and his twin brother left for school each day.

Castro’s mother, Rosie, rarely spoke Spanish to her children, emphasizing mastery of English instead.

When Rosie Castro attended school in San Antonio, the teachers “would charge us a quarter if you were caught speaking Spanish, and incidentally that’s how much lunch cost,” she told CNN.

A number of news outlets have suggested that Julian Castro represents the Democrats’ answer to Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who, like Castro, is Hispanic and spoke at his party’s national convention.

Unlike Castro, however, Rubio is fluent in Spanish, as evidenced by an interview he gave Telemundo last year.

The New York Times Magazine profile of Castro noted that his lack of fluency in the language is “a fact he isn’t eager to advertise.”

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