This past weekend, FreedomWorks, a free market organization with strong ties to the grassroots and Tea Party, hosted Free the People, an event that brought together thousands of people from across the country to hear speakers and receive activist training to utilize back home.
Among the speakers was Rafael Cruz, father of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). During his 11-minute talk, Cruz told the crowd about how he left Cuba as a teenager as Fidel Castro was beginning his “revolution” to come to the United States. He also explained that the consolidation of power by the executive branch today is all too reminiscent of what he experienced in Cuba and urged activists to fight for freedom.
“I grew up in Cuba under a strong military, oppressive dictatorship. So as a teenager I found myself involved in a revolution. I remember during that time a young, charismatic leader rose up, talking about hope and change. His name was Fidel Castro,” recalled Cruz. “And, you know, we all followed him. We thought he was going to be our liberator. As a result of being involved in the revolution, I was imprisoned, I was tortured.”
Cruz explained that he was able to get out of Cuba on a student visa. He got a job as a dishwasher and paid for his education at the University of Texas. But he went back to Cuba in 1959 after Castro’s regime had taken over and, he said, he got the shock of his life.
“That same man that had been talking before about ‘hope’ and ‘change’ now was talking about how the rich were evil, about how they oppress the people, and about the need to redistribute the wealth,” said Cruz. He began attacking the press — curtail freedom of the press — attacking religion, confiscating property, then he began instituting socialized medicine, and imposing wage and price controls — basically reducing everybody’s salary to the least common denominator. As a result productivity was destroyed, free enterprise was destroyed.”
“So I came back to the United States totally disillusioned, but glad and thanking God for the opportunity that this country offered me,” he added. “I decided that I was in the land of the free and the home of the brave and this is the land of opportunity and with hardwork and determination, I could achieve any dream.”
Cruz noted how saw socialism creeping into America. He got involved in Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign and introduced his son to the works of free market economists — including Milton Friedman, Ludwig von Mises, F.A. Hayek, and Adam Smith — and told his son that if the United States lost its freedoms that there would be no place to go.
“This is the bastion of freedom in the world!” proclaimed Cruz, which drew cheers and applause from the crowd. “And this is why we have to fight to protect the freedom we have.”
Then Cruz turned to what is going on in the United States today, relating his experiences under Castro to the doctrine of unilateralism under President Barack Obama.
“I think the most ominous words I’ve ever heard was in the last two State of the Union addresses, when our President said, ‘If Congress does not act, I will act unilaterally.’” he said. “Not much different than that old bearded friends that I left behind in Cuba; governing by decree, by executive order just like a dictator, like Fidel Castro.”
Watch the full video below. You can also watch other speakers from this weekend’s event at FreedomWorks’ YouTube channel: