Ted Cruz: US officials should not attend Fidel Castro's funeral

WASHINGTON (ABC News) -- Former Presidential candidate Ted Cruz has challenged President Obama and others in his administration to skip the funeral of Fidel Castro.

Cruz said on ABC News' "This Week" that Castro's death presents "an interesting test" for US officials in the coming days.

"It is a real opportunity for US officials to show where they stand. Let's stand with human rights and let's not celebreate someone who has 60 years of blood on his hands," Cruz said.

"I hope we don't see Barack Obama and Joe Biden and HillaryClinton and the Democrats lining up to lionize a murderous tyrant and thug," the Texas senator said. "If you wouldn't go to Pol Pot's funeral or Stalin's funeral or Mao's funeral because they were murderous communist dictators, then you shouldn't be doing what Barack Obama and Justin Trudeau are doing, which is celebrating Fidel Castro, a murderous communist dictator."

Cruz tweeted Saturday that Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau's statement on Castro's death was "disgraceful."

Cruz also reflected on his family's Cuban heritage and experiences with the Castro regime.

Cruz's father, Rafael Cruz fled Cuba in the 1950s after being jailed by Fulgencio Batista, who was Cuba's president until his regime was overthrown by the Castro-led Cuban Revolution in 1959. Cruz's aunt was also jailed by Castro's men before she was able to flee for the United States.

Cruz said of Castro's death "it is a powerful moment all across the country, and especially for Cuban-Americans. I was with my dad when he found out the news that Fidel Castro was dead, and he simply said, 'Praise God.'"

"For a man who has tortured and murdered and oppressed, for so many, it is thankful that he is no longer with us," Cruz said.

The senator said that he hopes that Cuba will now grant more civil liberties to its citizens before criticizing Obama for easing U.S. tensions with  Cuba.

"Raul is the dictator now ... And what Obama has done is funneled billions of dollars to Raul Castro, which is being used to oppress dissidents," Cruz said. "This ought to be a moment where Cubans are dancing in the street because they're being liberated, but instead, listen, if you dance in the street, you're going to be thrown in jail. Cuba is not a free society."

Cruz concluded by saying he looked forward to one day visiting a free Cuba.

"I look forward to coming to Cuba, but seeing a free Cuba where people can live, where it's pulled out of the land that time forgot," he said.

This is a developing story. Stay with 8News online and on air for the latest updates.

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