While millions of people in Texas were suffering long blackouts, cold weather, and food and water shortages as a result of a devastating winter storm, the Republican Senator for that state, Ted Cruz, went on vacation to Cancun with his family. Photos of Cruz on the plane taking him to Mexico went viral in the United States on Wednesday night, prompting strong criticism that the politician had abandoned his constituents in the midst of one of the worst weather crises in recent history.
This Thursday Cruz confirmed that he had traveled to Mexico because his daughters had asked him to do so and "wanting to be a good father" he decided to accompany them. "With school canceled for the week, our girls asked to take a trip with friends. Wanting to be a good father, I flew with them last night and will return this afternoon," he said in a statement.
Mexico is currently one of the countries to which the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends against travel due to high levels of coronavirus infections. According to U.S. media that interviewed parents of the private school where Cruz's daughters study, the school recommends its students not to travel internationally and, if they do, prohibits them from returning to the classroom for a week.
On Thursday night, after returning home, where he was greeted with a protest, Cruz said he realized he had made a mistake and that's why he decided to change his return ticket. "It was a mistake. In retrospect, I shouldn't have done it. I was trying to be a good father," he told reporters.
The trip by Cruz, his wife, and two daughters prompted widespread questioning in the United States given the critical situation in Texas, where millions of people are without electricity and running water in temperatures that have plunged to near minus 20 degrees Celsius. More than 20 people have died as a result of the cold in the southern U.S. due to the storm.
As a federal lawmaker, Cruz has no direct role in Texas' emergency response, but residents often approach their elected officials during natural disasters for help in accessing resources. They are also liaisons for better management between states and federal agencies.
Cruz, one of former President Donald Trump's staunchest supporters, has over the years questioned other politicians for taking vacation trips or golfing in times of crisis, calling them hypocrites. The 50-year-old senator is seen as one of the potential candidates for the 2024 Republican primaries.