AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz's father was a 1950s Cuban revolutionary who longed to slip into the island's eastern mountains and join Fidel Castro's guerrilla army.
At 17, Rafael Cruz led a group of insurgents staging urban sabotage against Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista. Cruz was eventually jailed and tortured, and upon his release wanted the underground to help him personally reach Castro's camp in the Sierra Maestra highlands.
"My dad asked if he could join Castro in the mountains and keep fighting," the firebrand Republican presidential candidate writes in his book, "A Time For Truth," which is being released Tuesday. "But he was told there was no way to get to the rebels."
Instead, the elder Cruz bribed his way to a Cuban exit visa and headed to the University of Texas.
He returned home shortly after Castro seized power in 1959 but, Ted Cruz writes, was appalled to see Castro had "declared to the world that he was a communist." Castro didn't formally call his revolution socialist until the eve of the Bay of Pigs invasion in 1961.
The Cruzes have long admitted that Rafael was an early Castro sympathizer. But Ted Cruz's memoir — a copy of which The Associated Press purchased — provides new details about his desire personally fight alongside the guerrilla leader.
The Cuban government hasn't commented about Rafael Cruz, making the anecdotes difficult to confirm. But Ted Cruz also writes that his father had planned to join Castro and help attack an army barracks in the city of Santiago in 1956, but didn't because Castro was delayed in returning to Cuba from Mexico.
Today, the 76-year-old Rafael Cruz is a pastor who frequently quotes scripture in anti-government speeches to grassroots groups. He's compared Barack Obama to a young Castro.
Ted Cruz writes that his father didn't open up about being tortured in Cuban jails until the future senator was a teenager, when the pair went to See "Rambo." The movie features scenes where the title character is tortured.
The son describes how his father says he was beaten with clubs and kicked in the head. That's also difficult to confirm, but the book includes a Rafael Cruz mug shot where his nose appears to be broken.
In the book, Cruz briefly tells how his elder half-sister, Miriam, died of a drug overdose in 2011. He discusses his wife, Heidi's, bouts of depression in 2005, which he chalks up to her having trouble adjusting to Texas life after the couple moved to Austin from Washington.
Ted Cruz also recalls heading to Maine in 2009 to meet former President George H.W. Bush — whose son Jeb is now one of Cruz's 2016 presidential campaign rivals. Cruz was invited to go sailing but was wearing a suit, so Bush loaned him clothes, including a "President of the United States" belt buckle.
Cruz writes that the borrowed duds felt "surreal."