GOP presidential candidate Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) has vowed to kill Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and tear up the international nuclear deal with Iran if he is elected president. Cruz made his threat to commit a terrorist act against the spiritual leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran while speaking to Values Voter Summit in Washington, a grouping of far-right wing fundamentalist “Christians” who decided to hold their meeting to compete with the visit to Washington of Pope Francis I.
Cruz told his red-meat awaiting audience that if he is president, “we may have to help introduce him [Ayatollah Khameini] to the 72 virgins.” The terrorist threat and slur against Islam came hours after Cruz relished in his long-awaited desire to depose Representative John Boehner (R-OH) as speaker of the House of Representatives.
In October 2013, Cruz met with a group of far-right Republican congressmen at the Tortilla Coast restaurant and bar at First and D Streets, a block from the Cannon House Office Building, to discuss ousting Boehner as speaker. Joining Cruz were Representatives Louis Gohmert (R-TX), Steve King (R-IA), and then Representative and now Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR). The Tortilla Coast “cabal” became a force that laid down the gauntlet to any Republican member of the House or Senate thinking about compromising with President Obama on any issue. They succeeded in getting Representative Steve Scalise (R-LA) elected as House Majority Whip. Scalise, a political ally of Ku Klux Klan leader and Louisiana GOP gubernatorial candidate David Duke, is a favorite of the Tea Party caucus to succeed Boehner as Speaker.
Cruz has made no secret of his plan to make Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell his next political victim. Smelling blood in the water after Boehner’s surprise resignation and using federal funding of Planned Paretnhood as a rallying cry, Cruz has been lining up support from right-wing GOP senators to stage a caucus coup against McConnell.
Cruz, who does not believe President Obama is constitutionally-qualified to be president because he lacks “natural born” U.S. citizenship status stands on very thin ice on the same issue. Cruz was born to an American mother and a Cuban resident alien of Canada in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Since Ted Cruz’s father, Rafael Cruz, lacked American citizenship when Ted Cruz was born, the junior senator from Texas has less of a constitutional argument to become president than Obama, who was born in the U.S. state of Hawaii to an American mother. In fact, Cruz only renounced his Canadian citizenship in 2013, just as he prepared to run for president. There is no record of Obama having ever renounced his Indonesian citizenship, however, the Constitution is unclear on dual citizens being able to serve as president, an issue that will one day present itself for judicial interpretation if a Jewish-American, eligible for instant citizenship in Israel, or an American citizen who possesses an easily-obtainable Irish passport based on Irish grandparents, ever becomes president.
Cruz’s Christian “Dominionist” religious beliefs are nothing more than a Christian version of Salafist Islam, the guiding tenet of the Islamic State. In fact, Cruz shares with the Islamic State the stated goal of murdering Iran’s Supreme Leader. Islamic State leader Abu Omar al-Baghdadi threatened in 2007 to bring war to Tehran itself when he stated: “We are giving the Persians, and especially the rulers of Iran, a two-month period to end all kinds of support for the Iraqi Shi’a government and to stop direct and indirect intervention.” Otherwise, the Islamic State threatened to attack Iran and depose its leadership if Iran’s support for the Iraqi Shi’as did not cease.
Dominionists relish in violence and their brand of Christianity has been seen in the violence of the neo-Nazi Christian Aryan Identity movement, the Branch Davidians led by the late David Koresh, and the Westboro Baptist Church members, the latter always picketing funerals with placards displaying “God Hates Fags!” “Catholics are Vampires,” and other extremist statements.
Cruz and his fellow GOP candidate Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) represent a troubling aspect with some Latino politicians. Regardless of the law schools from which they graduated—for Cruz it was Harvard Law School and for Rubio, the University of Miami in Florida—many conservative Latinos seem to believe that fascism with a slight veneer of “democracy” is how the United States should be governed. These right-wing Latinos fail to understand the democratic and liberal bedrock enshrined in the Magna Carta, the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and the Bill of Rights upon which American democracy rests.
When one looks at the Hispanic parentage of politicians like Cruz and Rubio, we discover people who came to the United States as a result of repeated attempts by the Central Intelligence Agency to overthrow the Cuban government of Fidel Castro. Rafael Cruz fled Cuba in 1957, two years before Castro came to power and at a time the CIA was feverishly supporting the Fulgencio Batista dictatorship. Ted Cruz’s Cuban aunt was recruited by the CIA’s anti-Castro forces in Cuba to participate in a counter-revolution against Castro.
Like Rafael Cruz, Rubio’s parents left Cuba before Castro came to power. Mario and Oriales Rubio left Cuba in 1956 but were not naturalized as U.S. citizens until 1975, making Senator Rubio a classic anchor baby. However, Cruz, who was born in Calgary, does not even appear to have “anchor baby” citizenship rights.
The heart of the GOP’s caudillo aficionados is southern Florida and its Cuban expatriate community. This immigrant sector has propelled into office a virtual Cuban mafia from the Miami area, including Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, U.S. Representative Mario Diaz-Balart, and his brother, Lincoln Diaz-Balart. The father of the Diaz-Balart brothers was Rafael Diaz-Balart, the Majority Leader of the Cuban House of Representatives and a supporter of the Batista regime.
The Cuban expatriate community could have never achieved the power they now maintain in the Republican Party had it not been for the financial patronage extended to them by two well-known Cuban-American mobsters, Santo Trafficante, Jr., in Tampa and Jose Miguel Battle, Sr., of Union City, New Jersey, both of whom had links to the CIA and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Not just Republicans benefited from the Cuban mafia’s largesse. New Jersey’s indicted Democratic Senator Robert Menendez largely owes his political fortunes, which started in Union City, to Battle’s crime syndicate. Another Democrat, former Senator Robert Torricelli, who resigned in 2002 amid a Senate ethics probe, was linked to Battle’s North Jersey Cuban mafiosi.
Ted Cruz has much in common with George W. Bush’s failed nominee for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, Miguel Estrada, who was born in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, long a backwater for CIA operations in Central America and the Caribbean. Estrada, a Harvard Law graduate, has a right-wing extremist track record that is emblematic of so many Republican Latino politicians and judges.
Ted Cruz’s desire to assassinate the Iranian leader is borne out of Cruz’s family’s culture of respecting the institution of the caudillo, the Latin American strongman who limits any threat to the ruling oligarchy or the corporate business interests by staging a coup d’état. Rubio’s celebration of the sudden resignation of Boehner at the same far-right Christian Values Voter Summit where Cruz spoke is also an indication of Rubio’s cultural affinity to caudillo politics. Although the age of the caudillo in Latin America is, thankfully, largely a thing of the past, the concept remains alive and well with the likes of Cruz, Rubio, and their supporters, Latino and non-Latino.
Politics and gender studies professor Meg Mott of Marlboro College in Vermont summed up nicely in a statement to The Christian Science Monitor the definition of a caudillo politician: “In the Spanish-speaking world, this type of leader is known as a Caudillo, the man on horseback who takes out the bad guys and leads his people to safety. He’s rough and he doesn’t care about fine things like legal rights, but that very roughness means he can get things done.” Although the statement was, ironically, in reference to Latinos possibly supporting the anti-immigrant Donald Trump, it could apply to any of the right-wing GOP Latinos running for office, including Cruz, Rubio, and Latino-wannabe Jeb Bush. Jeb Bush’s Latino son, George P. Bush, the Texas Land Commissioner and an aspiring national-level politician, combines the caudillo enthusiasm of the son of a right-wing Mexican immigrant with the oligarchic history of the Bush-Walker dynasty, a volatile mixture that should frighten every American citizen.
The Bush family has long surrounded itself with fascist Latino-Americans and resident aliens who have carried out patently undemocratic tasks for the CIA and the State Department. These have included the Cuban-Jewish immigrant from Havana Otto Reich, a key member of the Nicaraguan contra support network; Roger Noriega, the Mexican-American diplomat who helped arrange coups against Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haiti and Manuel Zelaya in Honduras; Orlando Bosch, the exiled Cuban CIA agent who carried out a number of terrorist attacks in the United States, Cuba, Venezuela, Barbados, Trinidad, Panama, and elsewhere; Luis Posada Carriles, another CIA contractor exiled in the United States who carried out terrorist attacks, many in league with Bosch, around the Caribbean region; Joe Fernandez, the Cuban-American and CIA agent who also used the alias Tomas Castillo and was part of Oliver North’s secret operation to smuggle drugs out of and weapons into Central and South America; Felix Rodriguez, the Cuban immigrant and CIA officer who was also a key part of the Iran-contra scandal; and Jose Rodriguez, the Puerto Rican former chief of the National Clandestine Service of the CIA who helped institute the CIA’s rendition and torture program and then presided over the destruction of congressionally-subpoenaed videotapes of illegal torture sessions.
The Republican Party champions the inclusion of Latinos and Hispanics to its ranks. However, many of the above individuals should have never been granted either citizenship or resident alien status due to their embracing of caudillo fascism. Frankly, they are—and this includes Cruz—people this nation does not need among its citizenry.
The problem that Cruz has with his wanting to assassinate the leader of Iran is that it is still against U.S. law to assassinate any foreign leader, even the leader of a country with which the United States lacks diplomatic relations. The U.S., by signing the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action on nuclear power production with Iran, recognizes Iran’s government as the legitimate government of Iran. Secretary of State John Kerry’s talks at the United Nations with the Iranian foreign minister also confers de facto recognition of the current government of Iran. Ever since July 1, 1981, U.S. and Iranian diplomats have met in The Hague as part of the Iran–United States Claims Tribunal (IUSCT), which has met to resolve mutual claims by the United States against Iran over seized assets in Iran and Iran against the United States over frozen Iranian assets held by the United States. The forum has served as an important back channel, in addition to Pakistan representing Iranian diplomatic interests in the United States and Switzerland representing U.S. interests in Iran, between Washington and Tehran.
For Cruz to suggest the United States assassinate the leader of a nation with which the United States is now negotiating with at various levels is just another case of caudillo beliefs entering into the American body politic. Such beliefs never had any place in the truly democratic nations of Latin America and they surely don’t belong in the United States.
Previously published in the Wayne Madsen Report.
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Wayne Madsen is a Washington, DC-based investigative journalist and nationally-distributed columnist. He is the editor and publisher of the Wayne Madsen Report (subscription required).