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'Freedom Was a Thing of the Past': Ted Cruz's Father Speaks About Growing Up in Cuba – And How It Shapes His Views of America

"I just praise God for being an American."

Now-Republican Senator Ted Cruz, left, raises his hand with his father Rafael, right, while holding his daughter Caroline during a victory speech Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, in Houston. (Photo: AP)

Republican Senator Ted Cruz of Texas has quickly made a name for himself since taking office earlier this year.  On Monday's episode of the Glenn Beck Program on TheBlaze TV, viewers met one of the biggest influences in making Cruz the man he is today: his father.

Speaking with Tara Setmayer, who was filling in for Beck, Rafael Cruz explained opposing the military dictatorship as a young man in Cuba.

"The revolution started in the high schools, in the universities," he said.  "It was very interesting because at that time a young, charismatic leadership rose up talking about hope and change -- his name was Fidel Castro."

Now-Republican Senator Ted Cruz, left, raises his hand with his father Rafael, right, while holding his daughter Caroline during a victory speech Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2012, in Houston. (Photo: AP)

"And you know we all thought he was going to be a liberator, so we followed him blindly," Cruz continued.  "And as a result of being involved in the revolution I was captured twice, and both times I thought I was going to...[be] executed, but by the grace of God I was able to leave the country [on] a university student visa and came to the University of Texas.  Didn't have any money. Couldn't speak a word of English. Got a job as a dishwasher making fifty cents an hour.  Went to school full time, worked full time...I paid my way through school."

Cruz recalled going back to Cuba as a sophomore in college, after Castro took power.

"I was shocked," he said.  "This same man that I had heard talking about hope and change now was talking about how the rich was evil, how they oppressed the poor, and about the need to redistribute the wealth. They started attacking freedom of the press. They started confiscating property and freedom was a thing of the past. So I came back to the United States disillusioned.  I started speaking against the Castro regime...when I was going to grad school my student visa was extended, and then for a short time I was a political refugee until I got resident status...and later on I became a citizen."

Within five or six years of finishing college, Rafael Cruz said he had his own business in oil and gas exploration.

When asked what he thinks of amnesty, Cruz said it is "fundamentally wrong to reward people who have broken the law over and above people who have gone through the [immigration] process."

"But it's beyond that," he said.  "We need to realize that we have created in the United States a culture of handouts, of thinking that the world or the government owes you a living.  And we've destroyed the spirit of entrepreneurship...I am so proud to be an American.  I remember when I came to this country 55 years ago with nothing, couldn't even speak a word of English, and this last January, to be able to see my son be sworn in as U.S. Senator from Texas -- I couldn't contain the tears.  Only in America. This is the greatest country upon the face of the earth.  This is a country that with the free enterprise, you can make your dreams a reality.  I just praise God for being an American."

Complimentary Clip from TheBlaze TV

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The full episode of The Glenn Beck Program, along with many other live streaming shows and thousands of hours of on-demand content, is available on just about any digital device. Get it all with a FREE TRIAL.

Cruz will joining Glenn Beck and numerous other speakers at FreedomWorks' "Free the People" event in Salt Lake City on July 5th.

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