What is life like living under a Communist regime?
We asked this question on Christ in Prophecy of our special guest, Rafael Cruz, the father of one of the United States senators from Texas and presidential candidate, Ted Cruz. He joined us to discuss what he believes are some of the greatest dangers to American democracy and freedom.
[Note: Lamb & Lion Ministries does not endorse any particular presidential candidate. The following interview has been lightly edited for grammatical purposes.]
Life Under Communism
Nathan Jones: Mr. Cruz, let’s begin by sharing your incredible life story. I want to hear about how you escaped Cuba after living under two dictators.
Rafael Cruz: I grew up under a very oppressive military dictatorship. During the seven years Batista was dictator he killed over 20,000 people! The Revolution started in the high schools and the universities. I remember during that time there was this young, charismatic leader talking about hope and change. His name was Fidel Castro. I got involved in the Revolution, and as a result of that, I was arrested, imprisoned and tortured.
Even though I did not know God, He knew me. By the grace of God I was able to leave Cuba legally on a student visa. I came to the University of Texas late in 1957 still thinking that Castro was a good guy. Well, in 1959 when Castro took over, I went back to Cuba at the end of the summer. Did I have a great shock, because this same man that had been talking about hope and change was now talking about how the rich were evil, about how they oppress the poor, and about the need to redistribute the wealth. Castro began confiscating private property. He began attacking the freedom of the press. He began attacking the freedom of religion.
To give you an idea of Castro’s methods, his soldiers would come into a kindergarten class and they would say to the kids, “Alright, kids, close your eyes and pray to God for candy. Where’s the candy? No candy.” Then his soldiers would say, “Alright, close your eyes again and pray to Fidel for candy.” While the kids had their eyes closed, very quietly the soldiers would place candy on all the desks.
I mentioned this story a few years ago at a meeting and a lady from Romania told me that Ceausescu did identically the same thing. Communism, Socialism, Marxism — it’s all the same, so let’s not get caught in the semantics. These ideologies need for government to become your god, and in order to do that, they must destroy the concept of God.
That’s the motivation for what’s behind all these attacks on Christianity that we are seeing today in America.
Dr. Reagan: I had the opportunity to go to Cuba a few years ago to teach at a seminary. I have been all over Eastern Europe and all over Russia before Communism fell, and yet I never saw a society so depressed as Cuba. People there just feel like they have no hope. They are living in mass poverty. The middle class was destroyed by Castro. People don’t understand that when he came to power he confiscated everything.
Rafael Cruz: Absolutely. Most people don’t really understand the myth about everybody being equal in Communism.
Nathan Jones: Under Communism the people are all equally poor, right?
Rafael Cruz: That’s right, though there are really three classes. The first is the government where they all live like millionaires because they’ve confiscated everybody’s wealth. Second, you have the army who are the enforcers. Then, third, you have the people. It is true, though, the people are all equal — they all equally starve!
Dr. Reagan: When I was at the Cuban seminary, I looked across the street and I noticed there was a little grocery store. Next to the grocery store there was a sign on a door that talked about how this was the neighborhood watch. I don’t exactly remember the title of the watch. I asked somebody what this meant and they said that is where the person has his office who watches their neighborhood. They watch everything in the neighborhood. All of Cuba is divided under these watches. If they see anything that changes, and anything that looks like people have some money that they shouldn’t have, they report it and get rewarded for doing so. You’ve got somebody watching you all the time in Cuba.
Rafael Cruz: Absolutely, yes, Cuba has a person on every block who is the Castro’s spy for that block. Then every six blocks they have one guy watching those six guys! It’s all that way across the country.
As a matter of fact, Cuba even has food police. Everything is rationed in Cuba. To give you an idea, meat is rationed to a half a pound per person per month. We eat a half a pound of meat in one sitting. But, that is the monthly ration. And, you still have to buy your meat! What happens is people hoard food, or they trade food, and so forth. If the watchers catch you with additional food, you’ll be put in jail. They call that hoarding.
Dr. Reagan: Mr. Cruz, one of your comments that you make over and over, and I’ve read this many times, you are quoted as saying, “I am standing up against certain dangerous trends in America, because if America goes the way of Cuba, there’s no place to flee to.”
Rafael Cruz: Absolutely. I must have told my son, Ted, that a dozen times. When I lost my freedom in Cuba, I had a place to come to — America. If we lose our freedoms here in America, where are we going to go? There is just no place to go.
Dr. Reagan: Where is there another place like this country that you came to all that time ago, where you, as an immigrant, arrived with $100, and you started going to school, and you were given all of the opportunities that you’ve had, and then you have a son running for President of the United States? This nation is unbelievable!
Rafael Cruz: That is the greatness of America. America is the greatest country on the face of the earth. How dare our current President say that the United States is not an exceptional country. This is the most exceptional country on the face of the earth!
Dr. Reagan: President Obama spends most of his time going around the world apologizing to everybody for America. We are the ones after all who in World War II defeated the Nazis, and yet we are apologizing?
Rafael Cruz: I love America so much. This is the only country on the face of the earth founded on the Word of God. It was founded by men and women seeking the freedom to serve God. We’ve seen how God has used America. America has evangelized the rest of the world.
In the second segment of our interview of Rafael Cruz, we’ll look at how Americans are losing their freedoms.