News and views from the award-winning author of the novels The Skinny Years, America Libre, House Divided and Pancho Land

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Tea Party Latino Shows Overlooked Diversity

Tea Party favorite Ted Cruz, the son of a Cuban-American immigrant, won the Texas U.S. Senate nomination of the Republican party this week. .

Cruz was born in 1970 in Calgary, Canada to Rafael Cruz and Eleanor Darragh. The elder Cruz was jailed and tortured by the Batista regime and fought for Fidel Castro in the Cuban Revolution before fleeing to Texas in 1957. Later, Rafael Cruz would say he "didn't know Castro was a Communist" and became a staunch critic of Castro when "the rebel leader took control and began seizing private property and suppressing dissent."  Ted Cruz's mother was raised in Delaware in a family of Irish and Italian descent.

Nominally defined as a "Latino," Cruz is touted (along with Marco Rubio) as an example of inclusiveness in the Tea Party. In truth, Cruz's only connection to Latino culture is a name ending in "z." He was raised in middle-class comfort and his ability to speak Spanish is roughly equal to that of George W. Bush.

Still, this is the reality of the Latino electorate that pundits usually ignore. Latinos do not come in a single political flavor. All the same, every day we hear talking heads seriously discussing how candidates will court the Hispanic vote.

What do you think? Are there issues which unify all Latinos? Is it "English-Only laws"? Is it immigration reform? What defines a Latino? I hope you'll share your thoughts.