A spokeswoman for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said Tuesday that the lawmaker walked out of Nelson Mandela’s memorial service in Johannesburg when Cuban President Raul Castro spoke to the crowd, according to news reports.
“Sen. Cruz very much hopes that Castro learns the lessons of Nelson Mandela,” Cruz spokeswoman Catherine Frazier told ABC News. “For decades, Castro has wrongly imprisoned and tortured countless innocents. Just as Mandela was released after 27 years in prison, Castro should finally release his political prisoners. He should hold free elections, and once and for all, set the Cuban people free.”
Cruz, whose father immigrated to the United States from Cuba, was one of just two Republicans that joined an official congressional delegation to attend the memorial service.
President Barack Obama shook Castro’s hand as he greeted a line of world leaders before taking the podium to speak at the service. That gesture was later criticized by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).