REMEDIOS DEL RÍO / NIETO
A Life dedicate to others
What I perceive when I look at you is strength and sincerity… I’d like to know what Remedios Nieto was like as a child. What are your fondest memories from your childhood?
I was just like I am now, a dynamic person. I was sent off to boarding school at the age of 5, to see if they could straighten me out, but neither the nuns nor my father were able to achieve it… I’m an eternal optimist, always expecting everything to turn out well, I never took NO for an answer. According to my husband, I’m like England, capable of losing battles, but in the end, I win the war.
When did you arrive in Marbella?
I’m from Granada and grew up in Lanjarón, and I first came here at the age of 12, invited by some friends of my father’s. My father was a doctor, and as more often than not he didn’t charge for his services, they invited me in order to return the favour to him. The last thing I would have imagined was that I’d end up living in the province of Malaga, and furthermore, in a place where there was nothing at that time. If you’re referring to once married, then I arrived in 1961.
Do you think that having success and being a brilliant, dynamic person causes resentment?
Yes, deeply and sadly, yes. Sometimes you realise that you’re never forgiven for it. Being brilliant is bad, standing out is bad… because they don’t think you’re brilliant or out-standing, they think, “So what does she want?” A friend of mine once told me: “If you’re luminous, you’re not going to put a sack on to dim your light. Head up, and keep going. ”
Where does Remedios Nieto end and Remedios del Río begin? Do you think you’d have achieved the same things just being Remedios Nieto?
Where Remedios Nieto ends and Remedios del Río begins is unclear, the two go together. Remedios Nieto was the daughter of Don Emilio, and now I carry the surname of a magnificent, honest man with whom I’ve come to the same place where Remedios Nieto was.
You were born into a wealthy family, in a financially comfortable environment, so you could have simply led a life of leisure… Yet you decided to fight hard in life, and today you are a highly regarded woman for your professional career in Marbella and Benahavis. Tell us what your greatest legacies are.
My first legacy, my children, and then a pharmacy. From behind the counter of the pharmacy, you notice many necessities, so I founded ASPANDEM. I set up this association because I was asked for help by some parents. When I arrived here, I did a bit of everything, I was in the Red Cross. I worked with Countess Larisch, handling press, radio and television, and a bit of P.R. My husband was also president of the Maritime Red Cross, I worked selling the first UNICEF Christmas cards with Carmen Lizarza. I also worked in a cancer association, when Marita, Cristina Perla were there. And I was, and still am, president of the Athenaeum of Visual Arts of Marbella. My father and my husband have always told me not to seek protagonism, but if I was asked to do something, and I was able to, I had the obligation. Something my father used to say to me was “If I was born to be a spring, I had to give water”. And I’ve been fortunate, I have a husband who has loved me, and still loves me, and as his sight is failing, he still sees me as blonde. And finally, I’m also vice-president of Spanish Friends of Tel Aviv University, I’m president and governor of the University.
Which is your favourite room in your home, where you feel most comfortable?
The library, which you’re already familiar with, but that’s something private of mine. Now, I feel very comfortable anywhere, the thing is, this library has a special energy.
With such an extensive library, what’s your favorite book and why?
I would highlight “Oceana” by Neruda, with illustrations by Pepe Caballero, because it’s very special, as you’ve already seen, and “The Little Prince”, because who doesn’t feel like a little prince? And everything he says, if you really look at it and understand it, is a perfect standard for life.
Taking stock of your life to date, tell us, what is the essence of life for you?
My essence is love… Everything is pure love, and if you give love in your life, you’ll cry less at the very least. For me, it’s essential, and if you are also loved, then that’s “playing your cards and winning.”
With four children, you finished your degree in Pharmacy, you have the title of yacht skipper and property agent, boutiques in Sotogrande and the Marbella Club Hotel, you’re a founder member of the Rotary Club and an avid philanthropist… Sounds exhausting! How did you manage it?
The fact is that I’m extremely active and disciplined. The Rotary Club was the first mixed club in Andalusia. I’m not a feminist, I’m feminine, I like to walk side by side with men, especially with the man I love. I’ve always liked working.
And a woman you admire? Women, as such. A woman who is feminine, yet knows how to stand up and fight.
You consider yourself feminine, not a feminist. Nevertheless, you can give today’s women some advice.
I believe in fair competition. You have to be feminine, you have to be a woman, it’s one of the gifts God has given us, and we have to be grateful. My first piece of advice is to be a woman, and furthermore, to compete with men, not to trample on them or try to be superior, but rather everyone should aim to achieve on the basis of their merits, and not expect to be given more simply because they’re women.
How do you see the youth of today?
It scares me. I don’t know how I’d live nowadays, I was always very much ahead of my time, but… I’m also afraid because it’s not easy for them. The life that awaits them isn’t the life we have, it’s much more complicated.
Too much competitiveness?
Well, there’s always been competitiveness. As there are so many of us, there are lots who aspire to the same thing, that’s why it’s much more difficult for them than back in my times, when women only made up 10% of the faculty.
What values would you highlight in your family? I think my family’s wonderful. Regarding values, there are two important things for me: ethics and aesthetics. Well-oriented ethics with noble sentiments will overcome anything, and I also believe that family is what will save the world.
When did you set up Aspandem, and why? I set up ASPANDEM because some parents, Claudio and his wife, came to look for me at the pharmacy, and there was nothing for children with disabilities… My husband let us use one of our premises free of charge for five years. Then we set up a school and drew up the official statutes on May 25, 1980, on the day of Saint Madeleine Sophie Barat. It’s now a large company. Then, in 1998, we created FUNDATUL, where we do just two things: one is guardianship, which is granted to us by a judge, from children without families to 90-year-old ladies, and on the other hand, we do what is referred to as support into work, which is the jewel in our crown… We prepare children with physical, mental or sensory disabilities for permanent job positions (all companies with more than 50 employees are required to hire one disabled person). Between 2007 and 2019, we’ve generated 300 permanent contracts. We only ask our members for €50 per year or €30. I’d like to take this opportunity to send out an SOS, to call us, anyone who has problems should come to us, and we’ll solve them whenever we can, and we need all the help we can get.