The Corner

The Other Cruz

Meet Ted’s dad:

Rafael Cruz does not take his arrival in the heart of the conservative movement’s upper echelon for granted. He may project confidence and verve when he’s in front of a tea-party audience, but, he tells me, he wept when his son took his oath, and every day he says a prayer of thanks that he and his son can work together at the national level.

Whereas his son’s biography is a straightforward narrative of a child prodigy turned senator — Princeton, Harvard Law, Supreme Court clerk, and Texas solicitor general — Rafael Cruz’s life has been far more complicated.

Born in Matanzas, Cuba, he grew up in the Cuban middle class in the 1950s, as the son of an RCA salesman and an elementary-school teacher. As a teenager, he grew to detest the regime of Fulgencio Batista. He and some of his schoolmates frequently clashed with Batista’s officials. Eventually, he linked up with Castro’s guerrilla groups and supported their attempts to overthrow Batista.

It’s a decision he still regrets. His move toward Castro, he explains, was mostly due to his anger with Batista’s government, which at one point imprisoned him and tortured him for his work with the revolutionaries. He says he never shared Castro’s Communism, but, at the time, it was the best way to fight Batista’s oppression. By age 18, in 1957, he knew he needed to get out, and a friend essentially bribed an official to secure him an exit permit.

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