San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Costa Rican photojournalist who covered U.S. President John F. Kennedy and Pope John Paul II dies at 84

Mario Castillo, a Tico photographer who captured images of Pope John Paul II and U.S. President John F. Kennedy during their visits to Costa Rica, died on Wednesday, Oct. 30. He was 84.

Castillo spent his last years working for the daily Al Día from the newspaper’s opening in 1992 until 2012, when he retired.

A devoted fan of Cartaginés, his province’s football team, “Castillo was an institution among Costa Rican photographers,” Al Día recalled in a story about him on Thursday. “His work was brilliant especially in sports photography, and during the Nicaragua conflict during the 1980s,” the daily stated.

A photo Castillo took in 1983 of the Nicaraguan Contras’ Southern Front appeared in The Tico Times’ lead story on Friday. 

During an interview with Al Día days before his retirement, Castillo said the event that impressed him the most in all his years “was the accident of a small plane that crashed into Reventado River [in Cartago], in 1964. I assisted the Red Cross crews to get the pilot out using a tractor,” he told the paper.

His funeral was held on Thursday in Paraíso, west of Cartago.

Nicaraguan Contras

One of Mario Castillo’s photos while covering the Nicaraguan Contras’ Southern Front. Mario Castillo/Tico Times 

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