Cruz speaking at the Southern Republican Leadership Conference in 2015
Rafael Bienvenido Cruz y Díaz
March 22, 1939
|Education||University of Santiago de Cuba|
University of Texas, Austin (BS)
|Spouse(s)||Julia Garza (Divorced)|
Eleanor Darragh Wilson (Divorced 1997)
|Children||3, including Ted|
Rafael Bienvenido Cruz y Díaz (born March 22, 1939) is a Cuban-American Protestant preacher, public speaker, and father of Texas U.S. Senator and 2016 presidential candidate Ted Cruz. He is described by various media outlets, including The Wall Street Journal, as an acting surrogate in his son's political campaigns.
Cruz attended Arturo Echemendia primary school in Matanzas. Cruz states he joined the Cuban Revolution as a teenager and "suffered beatings and imprisonment for protesting the oppressive regime" of dictator Fulgencio Batista. Cruz enrolled at the age of 17 at the University of Santiago in September 1956. According to Cruz, as a teenager, he "didn't know Castro was a Communist". Cruz has stated in interviews that he was jailed by Batista for several days in June or July 1957 and after he was released he applied to and was accepted by the University of Texas in August 1957. He obtained a student visa after an attorney for the family bribed a Batista official to grant him an exit permit. Cruz said he left with $100 sewn into his underwear taking a two-day bus ride from Florida, arriving with little or no English to enroll at the University of Texas.
He graduated from UT with a degree in mathematics and chemical engineering four years later in 1961. Cruz states he worked his way through college as a dishwasher, making 50 cents an hour and learned English by going to movies. When he arrived in Austin he gave dozens of speeches in support of the Revolution to various clubs, but later after a visit back to Cuba in the summer of 1959 he became a harsh critic of Castro after "the rebel leader took control and began seizing private property and suppressing dissent". Upon returning he revisited the same groups to give lectures opposing Castro and the Revolution. Cruz recounts that his younger sister fought against the new regime in the counter-revolution and was consequently tortured. He remained regretful for his early support of Castro and expressed his remorse to his son on numerous occasions.
Religious and political beliefs
Cruz left the Catholic Church in 1975 and became an Evangelical Protestant after attending a Bible study with a colleague and having a born again experience. Explaining his leaving the Catholic church, Cruz stated in an interview with National Review, "The people at the Bible study had a peace that I could not understand, this peace in the midst of trouble. I knew I needed to find that peace by finding Jesus Christ." Following his conversion, his son and wife also became born-again Protestants. In the Cruz home, talk at dinner time was frequently about the Bible. He was ordained as a pastor in 2004.
Cruz works from his home in Carrollton, a suburb of Dallas, as a traveling preacher and public speaker, campaigning as a surrogate for his son during the 2016 Presidential campaign season. In a 2014 Associated Press story, Cruz was quoted as saying, "I have a burden for this country and I feel that we cannot sit silent." He went on to say that he feels "It's time we stop being politically correct and start being biblically correct."
About his political involvements in the 1980s, Cruz reflected, "I was on the state board of the Religious Roundtable, a Christian and Jewish religious organization that worked to elect Ronald Reagan." At the time, he told his son, "God has destined you for greatness."
At the New Beginnings Church in Irving, Texas, in August 2012, Cruz delivered a sermon where he described his son's senatorial campaign as taking place within a context where Christian "kings" were anointed to preside over an "end-time transfer of wealth" from wicked people to the righteous. Cruz urged the congregation to "tithe mightily" to achieve that result. During an interview conducted by The Christian Post in 2014, Cruz stated, "I think we cannot separate politics and religion; they are interrelated. They've always been interrelated." Salon described Cruz as a "Dominionist, devoted to a movement that finds in Genesis a mandate that 'men of faith' seize control of public institutions and govern by biblical principle."
On Labor Day 2015, Cruz was hosted at the annual "Turning Hearts" celebration in Kalona, Iowa, by the Bontrager Family Singers, a gospel and bluegrass group which became active in the ongoing Ted Cruz presidential campaign.
In 1959, Cruz married Julia Ann Garza (August 22, 1939 – May 18, 2013), but divorced after a few years. She later became a professor at California State University, Stanislaus. They had two daughters, Miriam Ceferina Cruz (born November 22, 1961) and Roxana Lourdes Cruz (born November 18, 1962), a Greenville, Texas, physician. Miriam died in 2011. He has three grandchildren.
After Cruz graduated from the University of Texas in 1961, he was granted political asylum in the United States following the expiration of his student visa. In his twenties, Cruz moved to New Orleans. In 1969, at his new oil company job, he met his second wife, Eleanor Elizabeth Darragh Wilson, a computer programmer from Wilmington, Delaware. Cruz and Wilson were sent to and lived in Calgary, Canada, where their only child, Rafael Edward "Ted" Cruz, was born on December 22, 1970. While in Calgary, the couple owned a seismic-data processing firm for oil drillers. Cruz earned Canadian citizenship in 1973. The family then moved to Houston, Texas.
In 2005 Cruz renounced his Canadian citizenship to become a naturalized U.S. citizen. Cruz now retains only Cuban and American citizenships. Eleanor and Rafael Cruz divorced in 1997.
Cruz was involved with his son's 2016 presidential campaign, playing what The Boston Globe described as "a crucial—if sometimes divisive—element of the Texas senator’s campaign to win over conservative Christian voters." During the campaign, Cruz underwent emergency eye surgery, but returned to campaigning after several weeks' recovery.
- Welna, David (June 20, 2013). "How Ted Cruz's Father Shaped His Views On Immigration". NPR.
- Bailey, Holly (October 27, 2015). "Meet Rafael Cruz: Ted Cruz's secret evangelical weapon". Yahoo! Politics. Yahoo!. Retrieved December 4, 2015.
One of his son's closest advisers and confidants, Cruz is a tireless surrogate ...
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The ex-revolutionary pastor regularly stumps for his son, whom he's compared to the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah – a relentless advocate with "fire in his bones." Ted, he says, is "not going to Washington to compromise."
- Will Weissert (February 9, 2014). "Rafael Cruz, Ted Cruz's Father, Emerges As Outspoken Surrogate For His Son". Associated Press via The Huffington Post. Retrieved November 27, 2015.
- Jones, Russ (October 6, 2015). "Christians Need to Be Politically Active Says Father of Sen. Ted Cruz". Christian Press. Oxford, Mississippi. Retrieved February 2, 2016.
Rafael Cruz, father of US Senator Ted Cruz, pastor of a Dallas church and director of North Texas-based Purifying Fire Ministries, said Christians need to be bold speakers for the truth of God and call upon God's people to be salt and light in the culture.
- "Senator Ted Cruz and Pastor Rafael Cruz". The Family Leadership Summit. The Family Leader. July 18, 2015. Archived from the original on January 16, 2016. Retrieved February 2, 2016.
Today Rafael Cruz is a pastor at a church in Dallas
- Brody File Exclusive: Ted Cruz’s Father Tells His Son: 'God Has Destined You for Greatness', The Brody File, David Brody, July 22, 2013. Retrieved November 24, 2015.
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- Michael Gryboski (May 23, 2014). "Pastor Rafael Cruz: Religion and Politics 'Interrelated'; US Comparable to Ancient Israel". The Christian Post - CP Politics. Retrieved November 27, 2015.
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- Tracy Jan, Ted Cruz's father gives him edge among conservative Christians, Boston Globe (January 27, 2016).