Passing Of Fidel Castro: Pastor Rafael Cruz, having lived in Cuba under his reign, talks about the passing of Fidel Castro.

Air Date: 12/14/2016

Guests: Pastor Rafael Cruz



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Transcription note:  As a courtesy for our listeners’ enjoyment, we are providing a transcription of this podcast.  However, as this is transcribed from a live talk show, words and sentence structure were not altered to fit grammatical, written norms in order to preserve the integrity of the actual dialogue between the speakers.




You”€™ve found yourself at the intersection of faith and the culture. This is WallBuilders Live! Where we’re discussing today’s hottest topics on policy, faith, and culture all from a Biblical, historical, and  constitutional perspective.


Your hosts are David Barton, America’s premier historian our founder and president here at WallBuilders, also best selling author in Warner Times magazine top 25 most influential  American evangelicals. We also have Tim Barton, national speaker and pastor.  And my name is Rick Green, former Texas state representative, author, and a speaker.


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We”€™re here with David and Tim now, and we”€™ve got a great topic today. Guys, we often get a little bit spoiled when we live in a country that’s been free for so many generations.  We don’t recognize tyranny even when we see it happening and what Mark Levin describes as a soft tyranny a little at a time. But man, apparently our president doesn’t even recognize it when it’s full blown tyranny in Cuba with the way he eulogizes Fidel Castro.


Passing Of Fidel Castro


Fidel Castro has quite a record. We’ll talk about that in a little bit. But at his passing, there were comments from world leaders all over, different countries.  And those comments were fairly interesting.  But one of the greatest contrasts, showing perhaps, worldview as much as anything else. Two leaders in the United States that talked about Castro’s passing. One was Trump who issued a statement and one was President Obama who issued a statement.


Obama”€™s Statement

Let me read some of President Obama’s statement and then we’ll contrast it with Trump’s statement. He says, “€œAt this time of Fidel Castro’s passing, we extend the hand of friendship to the Cuban people. We know that this moment fills Cubans in Cuba and in the United States with powerful emotions recalling the countless ways that Fidel Castro altered the course of individual lives, families, and of the Cuban nation. For nearly six decades the relationship between United States and Cuba is marked by discord and profound political disagreements.


During my presidency, we have worked hard to put the past behind us, pursuing a future in which the relationship between our two countries is defined not by our differences but by the many things that we share as neighbors and friends. Bonds of family, culture, commerce, and common humanity. Today we offer condolences to Fidel Castro’s family and our thoughts and prayers are with the Cuban people. In the days ahead, they will recall the past and look to the future.”€


That’s part of President Obama’s statement.


Trump”€™s Statement

You listen to that tone and Castro must have been a pretty good guy. That’s a pretty optimistic statement.


And then here’s Trump’s statement.  He says, “€œToday the world marks the passing of a brutal dictator who oppressed his own people for nearly six decades. Fidel Castro’s legacy is one of firing squads, theft, unimaginable suffering, poverty, and the denial of fundamental human rights. While Cuba remains a totalitarian island, it is my hope that today marks a move away from the horrors endured for too long and toward a future in which the wonderful Cuban people finally live in the freedom they so richly deserve. Though the tragedy of death and pain caused by Fidel Castro cannot be erased. Our administration will do all we can to ensure the Cuban people can finally begin their journey toward prosperity and liberty.”€


Is This the Same Castro?

Now, that doesn’t sound like the same Castro.



They are talking about two different people, I”€™m sure.  There must have been 2 different brothers.



You had two opposite twins. This is Jekyll and Hyde. Got to be what it is.



Well, as you were reading Obama’s statement, I was thinking,  “€œWhat if you’re a Cuban-American immigrant, that your family was killed or you know, you went through a lot of that terrible stuff there. I mean how would you feel about that statement?



Now Rick, how do you know that Castro even killed anybody? You”€™re being negative, man. Get off that.



You”€™re right, sorry.





Actually,Tim has some stats that might be kind of interesting.


Castro Tortured Higher Percentage Of Political Prisoners Than Stalin


So, I actually have a couple of articles and they identified several things and let me pose a few of these questions. As far as a percentage goes, who jailed and tortured more political prisoners as far as percentage goes, Stalin in Russia with the reign of great terror or Fidel Castro?



You mean what percentage of the nation did they lock up or abuse?






Well, that’s not a fair question because we’re talking about Castro.  So it has got to be Castro.



Yes. But let me contrast because it is more than Stalin. Let me throw out a name like Hitler– K? So, if we said one of them killed more in three years than the other did in six years of their own people, from their own nation, who killed more?



Well, it’s obviously going to be Castro but I would have chosen Hitler.


Castro Killed More Cubans In 3 Years Than Hitler Killed GERMANS In Six Years


Right. Castro killed more Cubans in three years than Hitler killed Germans in six years. When you started looking at what these guys, it really is remarkable.  When you look at the mass executions, the mass jailings, the larceny, the exile. But here’s what’s really interesting is then you add to the fact that under Castro was probably the most serious time in history when we were.  I can’t even imagine how close to starting a nuclear war around the world.


20 Times As Many People Have Died Trying To Escape Cuba

Well, what’s also interesting is over 20 times as many people have died trying to escape Cuba with Castro there as the dictator as tried to escape Germany under communism. Why that’s also interesting is because Cuba prior to Castro received more immigrants per capita than any nation on Earth. More than the U.S. did including the Ellis Island years. So Cuba used to be the place everybody wanted to be. And then you have these communist dictators.



Then you get 20 times more being killed trying to get out of Cuba than most kill trying to get out of East Germany and the Cold War. Unbelievable.



You also have people that don’t recognize the fact that Castro was a huge funder of terrorism around the world. Castro personally funded multiple terror groups.



Wait a minute, I have never heard any of this in my public schools. I think Obama got it right. I think you’re making this up.


When You Have Facts Can You Have Opinion?


You mean Harvard and Princeton and the others–they they didn’t talk about this?



I know Cuba has to be a great place because I keep seeing these T-shirts everybody’s wearing. And they have him as a great revolutionary leader.



I mean, Colin Kaepernick does think he’s a pretty good guy. There’s a lot of lessons we can learn from these guys that if we would just be more like them. And he wants America to be more like Cuba.



And the baseball game looks so fun that Obama attended. I mean, it looked like everybody was happy over there.



Somehow, I think there’s a picture of Cuba that just doesn’t seem to be coming across too well in schools and education.  And the stats that Tim has given that the president glosses over this is as, “€œOh we all feel for this man. And our condolences are with him and the powerful individual that Fidel is.”€ And he didn’t use the word dictator or brutal or tragedies or death or pain or anything else.


So, with all of this diverse opinion on Cuba– or at least– It’s not an opinion. You can’t have an opinion when you have facts. Well, I guess you can have an opinion, but facts should be louder than opinion. But with Obama’s opinion and Trumps facts that he recites with one of the people who actually lived in Cuba and was there at the time that actually Fidel Castro was rising is Ted Cruz’s father, Rafael Cruz.  


He was there.  He fought against Batista and that’s what brought Castro to power, fighting Batista. And so here you have Ted Cruz’s father, Rafael Cruz, being one of those early freedom fighters in the same movement that Castro was involved with. And certainly, since he left Cuba he has kept up with what has gone on there and is very intimately aware of what’s gone on there.



Had family there for years.



That’s right. Yeah. And his family was actually tortured by Castro. So you know, he certainly knows what’s going on inside Cuba.  And we thought he would be a great guest to give us commentary on what’s happened with this. Not only Castro and Castro’s Cuba but the way that Castro is looked at in various ways in the United States. Like Trump vs Obama.



Rafael Cruz will be our special guest today. Stay with us. We’ll be right back here on WallBuilders Live.


Moment From America”€™s History

This is David Barton with another moment from America’s history. Today, numerous court decisions demonstrate that there’s often a conflict between the courts, the law, and religion. Has this conflict always existed?  Not according to James Wilson. James Wilson was a signer of both the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. He was a law professor as well as an original justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.


James Wilson saw no conflict between religion and the law. In fact, just the contrary, he declared, “€œHuman law must rest its authority ultimately upon the authority of that law which is divine. Far from being rivals or enemies, religion and law are twin sisters, friends, and mutual assistance. Indeed, these two sciences run into each other in the views of Founding Father James Wilson religion and good civil law were inseparable.


For more information on God’s Hand in American History contact WallBuilders at 1 800 8 REBUILD.


Welcome, Rafael Cruz


Welcome back!  Thanks for staying with us here on WallBuilders Live. Good to have Rafael Cruz with us today.



It is so great to be with you.


Rafael Cruz”€™s Family Was Tortured By Castro


With the death of Fidel Castro, you”€™ve got a lot of people prognosticating on it.  And man, you were there before he came to power and certainly very familiar with the reign of terror that he had.  And we just wanted to get your thoughts on it and also get your thoughts on the different responses we’ve seen out of the Obama White House versus what Trump has said. Very, very different how they couched his, you know, how history might see Fidel Castro.



Oh absolutely. I think it’s appalling for Obama just giving condolences to the family and just basically embracing Castro. But it”€™s not really a surprise because both of those people are from the far left and they embrace Marxism. So I didn’t expect anything different from them. I was very pleased, not only with a statement that Trump made, but also with the statement that Rubio and my son, Ted, made concerning what’s really happening in Cuba and what has happened for the last almost 60 years.


Cruz Lived Under Batista And Castro In Cuba


Yeah, I really was also very pleased with what Senator Rubio and of course, your son Ted had to say about it. Of course, you guys lived through this stuff.  You under Batista and then of course, still have family under Castro.  And there’s just something different about your perspective when you’ve lived under tyranny like that and then come and experienced freedom. Most of our listeners don’t have that perspective. Can you help us appreciate our freedom a little more by sharing a little bit more about what you came out of there in Cuba?


Castro Campaigned As A Freedom Fighter


Well, you know of course, my struggle in Cuba began before Castro. We had a very oppressive military dictatorship there with Batista. Very early on in his regime in 1953, a young charismatic leader rose up leading a revolution. His name was Fidel Castro. And you know, we all followed him. The revolution started in the high schools and the universities.


Cruz Imprisoned

This man portrayed himself as a freedom fighter talking about bringing freedom and liberty back to the Cuban people.  And you know, it all sounds so pretty. And as I said we didn’t know any better. And the result of my involvement I was captured in prison. But by the grace of God, I was able to leave Cuba legally on a student visa and come to this wonderful country.


And I’ll tell you what, those of us that have lost our freedoms have such a great appreciation for the value of freedom. You know, I’m reminded of what Galatians 5:1 says where he said -God says, “€œStand fast, therefore, in the Liberty wherewith Christ has set us free. Let us not be entangled again with the yoke of bondage.”€ We need to cherish and embrace liberty because it is foundational to our existence.



We don’t realize it when we grow up in it. We get a little bit spoiled because we’re so used to having freedom, we have no perspective of what true tyranny is like. So hearing from folks like you that experienced it, I think is so important.  Especially for our young people but frankly every generation of Americans today need to be reminded of this.


Growing Up With Freedom We Take It For Granted


And you know the thing is this, you see, I lost my freedom basically in a very sharp contrast. But you know, I’ve come across so many Americans, especially young people that say, “€œOh we could never lose our freedoms here.”€


We are losing our freedoms here more and more and more every day. This is just like the old story of the frog, just step, by step, people just become complacent. Especially our religious liberty is under attack, is still under attack. This election has not all of a sudden given us religious freedom. Ordinances are being passed, things, city councils all across the nation. And we need to be vigilant and then stand as a watchman on the wall.


Religious Freedoms Under Attack In America


Yeah no doubt. And I’m glad you raised that point because you know, a lot of times an election like this occurs and people, Christians, and people that care about religious freedom start thinking, “€œWell, we dodged Hillary Clinton.  Everything will be OK.”€  And that’s not necessarily true. I mean we have to be vigilant and to have the opportunity and the freedom to participate to have all of the tools you need at your fingertips and to be able to speak freely and to be able to preach freely and talk about liberty.  And then not do it.


I can’t imagine when you were growing up in Cuba when when that was not allowed. How much you would have longed for that and now here we can do that and yet we have many that are unwilling to do that they just ignore the political process.  And pretend that being a salt and light in government really doesn’t matter. We need to wake those people up as well.


Fear Complacency Of The Church


I think one of the things that concerns me the most is the state of the church. Even though many Christian leaders stood up to the plate during this election, especially in the presidential election. I fear that they may become complacent not realizing that there is a lot really threatening religious liberty on a daily basis.


And I mentioned, Saudi ordinance as you know even where we live. After we defeated the Saudi ordinance in Houston, a similar ordinance passed in the city of Dallas. A similar ordinance got passed in the city of Plano on December 22nd last year just before Christmas when nobody was paying attention on the closed doors. They passed this ordinance.


We Need Christians In Office

And that’s happening all across the nation. And so we need not only to be vigilant we need to make sure that Christians are running for city council, are running for school boards, are running for these key positions at the local level that are affect our liberties daily.



Yes, absolutely! Pastor Cruz, just before I let you go, one more thought just on Cuba.  Do you think things are still a Castro regime? Have things changed there because Fidel is gone?



No, things have not changed at all.  As a matter of fact, Raul Castro has been governing Cuba for more than 5 years. You know because Fidel has been ill for the last 7 or 8 years. So Raul has really been in power for over 5 years. I don’t expect much to change until after Raul dies.


Cuban Government Keeps 92-93 Cents Out Of Every Dollar

As a matter of fact, when Obama approached Raul in Central America about normalizing relations, there were two statements that Raul made. One was, “€œIf the Americans think we’re going to change, they are in for a rude awakening.”€ And the second thing he said was, “€œIf an American company hires a Cuban worker, that salary must be paid to the Cuban government. The government will retain 92 or 93 cents of every dollar and pay the Cuban worker the rest.”€ Seven or 8 cents. Which means all we’re doing with these relations is fattening the fat cats while the Cuban people continue to be exploited.



I appreciated your son’s comment with regard to responding to Trump talking to the prime minister of Taiwan saying, “€œYou know I’d much rather him to be talking to her than to you know, Raul Castro and some of these other dictators that Obama has been talking to.”€ So I think that was very refreshing.



I think that was very refreshing. And we need to be vigilant about our liberty because as I said, our enemies are not going to just  all of a sudden lay down and play dead.



No doubt! Well Pastor, thank you very much. Also we’re going to have links to your book at our Website today and we look forward to having you back again soon.



Appreciate it. And if I don’t talk to you before, I wish you and your listeners very merry Christmas! And let’s keep Christ in Christmas!



Merry Christmas to you as well. Back in a moment on WallBuilders Live.


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Same Corruption With Raul Castro As It Was With Fidel Castro


Welcome back! Thanks for staying with us here on WallBuilders Live.  Back now with David and Tim Barton.


That’s a way to get a firsthand approach of how Cuba should be addressed right now and certainly how Castro should be remembered.  And he made it pretty clear. Same type of government and regime under Raul as it was under Fidel.


Fidel Turned On His People


Well, it’s interesting.  You were even telling me during the break that back early on, Rafael was a freedom fighter against Batista on the same side with Castro and therefore thought Castro was a pretty good guy.  But didn’t turn out that way. What’s the rest of the story?



He got here he and of course came to Texas.  He didn’t just come to a great country, he came to a great country. *Laughter*  Some people out there will get that.


He comes to Texas and he’s gone to the University of Texas and would go around and speak to clubs and talk to different folks about why it was a good thing that Castro had taken over.


But then he went back and visited Cuba and saw what was happening and came back to the states and back to Austin and went to all those clubs and said I was wrong and became a very harsh critic of Castro after that.


So you know, it’s like he said- I mean, when the rhetoric is all flowers, of course, he’s alluding to some American politicians with that. But when the rhetoric is all flowery and people talk about how they’re going to do all these great things, sometimes you believe it.  Especially if you’re under a brutal regime like he was with Batista. But man, I mean, it turned out to be exactly the opposite.  What he thought he was fighting for and whenever that was “€˜56- 57.



It’s interesting too that as he was talking there at the end about the two statements made by Raul, the brother of Castro. And that in talking to Obama, the two things were that:


  1. Anybody who thinks if Americans think that there’s going to be a change, they’re in for a rude awakening. I remember when that made headline news all over the country after Obama normalized relations. And no it didn’t.


I never even heard that statement but I didn’t keep up with Castro and Cuba that closely. I knew it made the wrong decision by rewarding Cuba by normalizing relations, helping their economics grow when they were still doing barbarous things.  And so now the brother who said that the last five years, as Rafael points out to say, “€œNothing’s changing.”€


  1.  And then, by the way, saying to the American companies saying, “€œIf you hire Cuban workers you pay their wages to the government not to them. And we’re going to keep 92 or 93 cents out of every dollar.”€


That didn’t make it out either. And so we’re sending American companies over there and we’re to normalize relations. We’re going to help build their economy and the government  where the dictators are going to keep 92-93 cents out of every dollar…



Man I thought my tax rate was bad.



Yeah exactly. We thought socialism is bad without a 68 percent tax rate in Denmark was bad. Welcome to Cuba 92-93 percent tax rate.



I wonder how much of a difference it makes in a country like that. When you do have a president that comes in like Trump is saying now and being very forthright about it. Here you are probably the last few years even of Raul, I mean he’s what, in his late 70s as well?


How much of a difference or what’s the better chance that the next leadership of Cuba if Trump is president at that time? What they will be like versus Hillary or is it even a fact?  Do you guys think that will even matter?



It can be a factor.  But it also depends on world pressure. Remember, we had Iran really under the hammer and Iran was suffering so much that they pleaded for an end to the boycott and the sanctions against them. So much were they hurting, that President Obama stepped in and said, “€œYeah, we”€™ll end the sanctions against you.  As a matter of fact, we’ll give you $150 billion cash infusion.”€ But that was because the world had stood up and said, “€œThis is a bad deal that’s going on here.”€


So when you get cooperative action from allot of sources, you can you can put a lot of pressure on. Same with North Korea. I mean North Korea is isolated. It’s barbarous what’s happening in that country and the murders that have gone on there and what is happening with that nation. But the world can create a situation where people want to do something.



Yeah. And by the way, I was wrong when I said Raul is in his 70s.  Actually, he is actually 85.  So getting even closer.



Well, that’s something that the Rafael alluded to. You know, as long as the two brothers are there, it’s not going to change much. Hopefully, after that there will be some type of change possible. There needs to be a change there. And if you have a strong leader with a strong voice- if President Trump steps in there and says, “€œHey now, we’re going to help empower the people to make a change.”€


Boil The Frog Slowly

But see, Raphael brought up something else that is very key to this. You now have two, three, four generations of Cubans who have lived only under oppression. Rafael was talking to Americans and saying, “€œLook, we have to cherish our liberty.”€  He said, “€œIt’s like the story of the frog.”€


And I think people know what he’s alluding to, the frog and water analogy.  And that frog and water analogy is pretty simple. A frog is an amphibian and if you”€™ll put him in water that is fairly cool and comfortable. If you’ll start increasing the heat on them, they will stay in that water because their body adjusts to the increasing heat and you can get it up to a really really high temperature that if you drop that frog in that high temperature they would instantly jump out because it is way too hot to be comfortable.  They don’t want to be there.  But if you do it slowly, then they’ll stay there and they’ll be part of it.



This is actually as a reference back to, I think, 1872.  It was the first experiment and the scientists actually was able to boil the frogs. And so the idea was that if you change it slowly enough, you actually could kill what’s in there. They would actually die because a change happened gradually enough and the frog didn’t know it should jump out of this thing.


We Have To Be Vigilant Not To Be Slowly Boiled Like Frogs


He’s talking about how we have to cherish our liberty, but if you’re an American and you live in a country where you’ve had the same piece of paper for 240 years. By the way, the average length of the Constitution across the world is only 17 years. We’ve had our declaration 240 years our Constitution 229 years. If you’ve lived without an absence of losing liberty, then you really don’t have a perspective of what it means to have had liberty and then have lost it.


Now older Cubans like Rafael do know because they lived through it. Younger Cubans do they know? And how much do they know? And if they’ve lived in a system where 92 -93 cents has been taken away from them with every check they make, are they going to go on a revolution to get all their money back? Probably not because they’ve never experienced that.


Teach The Rising Generation To Be Free

So, it takes some outside kind of leadership to be able to point that out. I was reminded of something that Founding Father John Jay said is that you have to teach the rising generation to be free. And that’s something that will be needed in Cuba for them to be successful.


You can have a revolution.  You can throw off the old form of government but if you’re going to be successful you have to teach them to be free.  And freedom is not something you inherently, innately have.  It”€™s something you have to learn.



Even when you’re born here.



Isn’t it interesting that those that, I think of Rafael Cruz or I think of Ted Cruz– I think of Marco Rubio and these guys, that they came from or their parents were immigrants from Cuba. How much, what great you know, freedom fighters they are and how passionate they are about preserving our liberty. So in some ways, we’re blessed when we have these folks that saw it or their parents saw it. And so it was much more personal. They get it.


History Or Experience: They Tell The Story

When we start talking about high taxation or government controls or regulations of the economy or telling people that are picking the winners and losers in government, you know, all the things that we know.  Tyranny, we see that, soft tyranny. They’re willing to fight against that because they have seen the other side.



I’ve never lived through a time where I didn’t have my freedoms but I’m very passionate for them because I’ve studied history enough to know what happens and how easy it is to lose your freedom.  So if you have no background of history and if you have no perspective except that which has been taught by progressives, to Obama, and others, then you don’t even recognize when your own liberty is being taken. But if you recognize it either by the study of history or by having experienced it as Rafael and his family has, then you’re much more passionate for it.



Man, that that is a great point, David. You don’t have to be an immigrant coming from tyranny to appreciate it.  Just study history and you’ll see it and appreciate it.  That’s why you should listen to WallBuilders Live every day of the week.
Thanks for joining us today. Thanks, Rafael Cruz, for being with us. You’ve been listening to WallBuilders Live.