ABC News(NEW YORK) — Republican Sen. Ted Cruz challenged President Obama and other top administration officials to not attend Fidel Castro’s funeral.
Cruz said on ABC News’ This Week that the death of the longtime Cuban leader presents “an interesting test” for U.S. officials over the the next few days.
“It is a real opportunity for U.S. officials to show where they stand. Let’s stand with human rights and let’s not celebrate someone who has 60 years of blood on his hands,” Cruz told ABC News’ Martha Raddatz.
“I hope we don’t see Barack Obama and Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton and the Democrats lining up to lionize a murderous tyrant and thug,” the Texas senator said. “If you wouldn’t go to Pol Pot’s funeral or Stalin’s funeral or Mao’s funeral because they were murderous communist dictators then you shouldn’t be doing what Barack Obama and Justin Trudeau are doing, which is celebrating Fidel Castro, a murderous communist dictator.”
Cruz on Saturday tweeted that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s statement on Castro’s death was “disgraceful” and that Obama’s statement showered love on our enemies.
Cruz also reflected on “This Week” on his family’s Cuban heritage and experiences with the Castro regime.
The senator’s father, Rafael Cruz, fled Cuba in the 1950s after being jailed by the regime of Fulgencio Batista, who was the island nation’s president until his government was overthrown by the Castro-led Cuban Revolution in 1959. Later, Cruz’ aunt was later jailed by Castro forces before leaving Cuba for the United States.
Cruz said Castro’s death “is a powerful moment for people all across the country, and especially for Cuban-Americans. I was with my dad when he found out the news that Fidel Castro was dead, and he simply said, ‘Praise God.’”
“For a man who has tortured and murdered and oppressed, for so many, it is thankful that he is no longer with us,” Cruz said.
The senator said that he hopes Cuba’s future will hold greater liberty for its citizens. But he attacked Obama’s easing U.S. relations with the country, saying it emboldened Cuba’s current leader, Raul Castro.
“Raul is the dictator now … And what Obama has done is funneled billion of dollars to Raul Castro, which is being used to oppress dissidents,” Cruz said.
Cruz added, “This ought to be a moment where Cubans are dancing in the street because they’re being liberated, but instead, listen, if you dance in the street, you’re going to be thrown in jail. Cuba is not a free society.”
Cruz also expressed his hope to visit the country where his father is from.
“I look forward to coming to Cuba, but seeing a free Cuba where people can live, where it’s pulled out of the land that time forgot,” he said.
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