Cruz speaks at a campaign rally in Provo, Utah, on Saturday. (Photo: George Frey/Getty Images)
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz slammed President Obama’s historic trip to Cuba on Sunday, arguing that the United States is sending a dangerous message to “political prisoners languishing in dungeons across the island.”
“Nobody has your back,” Cruz wrote in an op-ed published by Politico. “The world has forgotten about you.
“They will not be on TV, rubbing elbows with the Obamas,” Cruz continued. “There will be no mojitos at the U.S. Embassy for them. Raúl Castro denies their very existence.”
The Republican presidential hopeful is the son of a Cuban immigrant “who was beaten and tortured” during former Cuban president-turned-dictator Fulgencio Batista’s regime before fleeing to the U.S.
More from Cruz’s Politico piece:
News reports say there are more than 100 long-term prisoners of conscience in Cuba. Nobody knows for sure, as the Castro regime does not grant international organizations access to its prisons. But we know they are there and that hundreds are held for shorter periods, and beaten in prison regularly.
Until Obama, siding with the oppressed had always been America’s aspiration. We have done so not just out of an abiding sense of justice, but also for hard-nosed reasons of national interest. In Cuba the Castros have been the implacable enemies of the United States for more than half a century. It is in our interests to make common cause with the brave souls who oppose them.
In December, President Obama told Yahoo News that he would only travel to Cuba “if, in fact, I with confidence can say that we’re seeing some progress in the liberty and freedom and possibilities of ordinary Cubans.
“If we’re going backwards,” Obama added, “then there’s not much reason for me to be there.”
“I have news, Mr. President,” Cruz wrote. “No progress has taken place. Cuba is going backwards.”
During a campaign stop in Arizona, Cruz called Obama’s touchdown in Cuba “a sad day in American history.”
“For decades, leftists and Hollywood liberals have made the pilgrimage to Cuba to pay homage to Fidel Castro and Raúl Castro,” Cruz said. “It’s very chic, it’s very chichi for leftists to celebrate vicious communist dictators.”
If elected president, Cruz vowed he would visit Cuba too, though under different circumstances.
“I cannot wait as president to visit Cuba,” he said. “But when I visit Cuba, it will be a free Cuba. It will be a Cuba without Raúl Castro, without Fidel Castro. And I can’t wait to celebrate with the people of Cuba 90 miles off America’s shore.”