Senator Ted Cruz’s Cuban heritage came front and center in a letter he penned for Politico on Sunday condemning President Barack Obama’s visit to the Communist country.
While Ted spoke of the wider issues related to Barack’s Cuba visit, he also carefully linked his own personal connection to Cuba. Cruz highlighted the fact that his own family had suffered under Fidel Castro’s regime, eventually finding refuge in the United States.
“I am the son of a Cuban who was beaten and tortured by Batista’s regime, and my aunt was likewise brutalized by Castro’s thugs. Thankfully, both my father and my Tía Sonia found freedom in the United States… That freedom can come to Cuba, and I pledge to work to make it so. But it cannot happen by enriching and empowering the dictatorship, while they export terrorism throughout Latin America. And it cannot happen by forgetting the heroism and suffering of the brave souls who have opposed the Castros for so many decades.”
Ted opened the letter by comparing Obama’s visit to those that many prominent left-wing figures and celebrities have made, such as Black Panthers-associated Angela Davis and Stokely Carmichael. Cruz called such trips a “magnet for the radical chic of the left,” mocking such visitors for traveling to the country without taking into account the human rights abuses that were taking place. A trend, he argued, that Barack would be continuing with his presence.
“Meanwhile, political prisoners languishing in dungeons across the island will hear this message: Nobody has your back. You’re alone with your tormentors. The world has forgotten about you. They will not be on TV, rubbing elbows with the Obamas or left-wing politicians like Nancy Pelosi. There will be no mojitos at the U.S. Embassy for them. Raul Castro denies their very existence.”
Ted is speaking about the political prisoners who many believe have been detained for an extended period of time in Cuba due to their dissonance with the values and ideals of the Communist Party — the only political party allowed in Cuba. As Cruz noted, the Castro regime has denied their existence, but human rights groups assert that there are more than 100 long-term prisoners currently locked up for subversive action against the government.
While the last decade — since Raúl took the helm — has seen an easing of restrictions on religious and other freedoms, Ted underlined that Cuba still often gets a poor rating from human rights organizations. In addition, the Cuban Commission for Human Rights and National Reconciliation (CCDHRN) — technically considered illegal in Cuba — estimates that around 7,000 people were detained for arbitrary reasons in 2014. More information about the oppression Cruz relates can be found in Human Rights Watch‘s 2014 report.
Apart from the humanitarian issues at hand, Ted’s editorial also argued that Obama was facilitating a business relationship between corporate America and the Cuban government at the expense of people on both sides of the equation. Cruz, like fellow Cuban Marco Rubio at the last Republican debate, said that these deals will ultimately serve to finance the Castro regime.
“The White House keeps saying that this trip will chart a new course for people-to-people relations, but all that Obama’s appeasement of the Castro dictatorship has done so far is create a channel for inside deals between large corporations and the Cuban military, which holds all the keys to the island’s economy. The effect will not be liberalization but rather the institutionalization of the Communist dictatorship as the profits from this détente will line the pockets not only of Fidel and Raul Castro, but also of Raul’s son, Alejandro Castro Espin.”
Ted Cruz’s Cuban editorial was posted just as President Barack Obama began his visit to Cuba, where he and the rest of first family will stay for two days before moving on to Argentina. Notably absent from the president’s Cuba agenda is a meeting with Fidel Castro.
[Image via Bob Levy and Joe Raedle/Getty Images]