Sen. Ted Cruz tweeted Tuesday that it was “awesome” that airlines are offering discounted deals to Cancún, three months after he faced backlash over his trip to Mexico during the Texas winter storms.
The Texas senator was embroiled in a political firestorm in February as Texas residents endured freezing temperatures and widespread power outages. More than 150 people died during the frigid winter storms, with causes of death ranging from hypothermia to carbon monoxide poisoning.
A tweet by ABC13 Houston shared an article about low-cost airline Sun Country Airlines, reading: “Excited to travel again? This airline can hook you up with a cheap flight to sunny Cancún or even Las Vegas!”
Cruz reshared the tweet with the caption: “Awesome!”
Twitter users slammed Cruz in replies to the tweet, alluding to Cruz’s comment as a joke in light of the controversy spurred by his own trip to Cancún.
“The people of your state were in dire straits when you willfully abandoned them,” one Twitter user wrote. “The fact that you are joking about it confirms that you have no regrets.”
“Making jokes about how you abandoned your state leading to a child freezing to death does not make it ok,” another person replied.
In February, Cruz was lambasted after photos emerged of him at the airport heading to Cancún, and protestors gathered outside his home the following day. The trip was further corroborated by leaked text messages of his wife Heidi Cruz planning the Cancún trip with other families.
At the time, Democrats slammed the Republican senator for taking the trip, calling for him to resign.
“People in Texas are literally freezing to death and yet Ted Cruz went on vacation to Cancun,” Democratic Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington tweeted. “I guess spending so much time denying climate change must leave him pretty exhausted.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortex renewed her calls for Cruz’s resignation. She had originally demanded he step down over his response to the Capitol riots.
“If Sen. Cruz had resigned back in January after helping gin up a violent insurrection that killed several people, he could’ve taken his vacation in peace,” she tweeted at the time. “Texans should continue to demand his resignation.”
In a statement responding to the backlash, Cruz said his daughters ask to take the trip and that he only intended to fly down with them overnight and return back to Texas the next day.
A representative for Cruz did not immediately answer Insider’s request for comment and whether the tweet was in reference to his trip in February.
“I mean the left and the media were more worried about Ted Cruz going to Mexico to spend his own money, then they are about the caravans going through Mexico to take ours,” he added, as applause erupted in the crowd.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s speech at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference went off the rails Friday as he shouted about late night comedians, mask-wearing, and President Joe Biden.
“Orlando is awesome. It’s not as nice as Cancun, but it’s nice,” Cruz began, referring to the scandal he sparked when he left storm-ravaged Texas for Cancun with his family last week. The Republican senator returned to Houston a day later after drawing sharp criticism for leaving the state he represented for a vacation in the middle of a devastating winter storm.
Later in his speech, Cruz issued a rallying cry in support of former President Donald Trump.
“There are a whole lot of voices in Washington that want to just erase the last four years, want to go back to the world before where we had government of the lobbyists, by the lobbyists, and for the lobbyists,” he said.
“Where the Republicans’ compelling message was, ‘Republicans: we waste less,'” Cruz continued. “And they look at Donald J. Trump and they look at the millions and millions of people inspired who went to battle fighting alongside President Trump, and they’re terrified and they want him to go away.”
Here are some other highlights from Cruz’s speech:
Mask-wearing is virtue-signaling: “We’re gonna wear masks for the next 300 years,” Cruz said. “And by the way, not just one mask – two, three, four – you can’t have too many masks! How much virtue do you wanna signal?”
Railing against comedians and cancel culture before telling people to “just have fun”: “You know, Jerry Seinfeld doesn’t tell comedy anymore because then he jokes that funny is canceled,” Cruz said. “You know, ‘SNL’ is unwatchable. The late night comedy, they stand up and say ‘We hate Donald Trump.’ Yeah, no kidding. We didn’t get that the last 9,000 times you said that.”
Democrats are trying to turn skaters into socialists: “And let me tell you, right now, in Los Angeles, there’s some skater kid who’s 19, who’s told that it’s hip and chic and cool to be a leftist socialist, man,” Cruz said. “Who’s gonna hear a message, ‘Wait a second, these guys don’t want me to speak? Think? Have fun? Do what I wanna do?'”
There were no “Black Lives Matter” demonstrations in Houston last year because of the Second Amendment: “In Houston where I live, I have to tell you, there weren’t any rioters because let’s be very clear, if there had been, they would discover what the state of Texas thinks about the 2nd amendment right to keep and bear arms,” Cruz said.
Cruz rounded out his speech by warning that the US is in a period of “dark days” and that “the country will come back to sanity.” He added: “And mark my words, 2022 is going to be a fantastic election year and so is 2024 as we stand together and defend liberty, defend the Constitution, defend the Bill of Rights of every American.”
In closing, Cruz quoted William Wallace and screamed, “FREEDOM!”
With so many former class presidents crammed into one place, Capitol Hill proved vulnerable to high school hijinks on Wednesday morning.
Following his infamous Cancun junket, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas was the subject of a prank in the locker room of the Senate gym midweek, according to a report from Carol Lee and Leigh Ann Caldwell of NBC News.
Early birds turning up for a workout Wednesday morning came across color printouts of Cruz in his airport getup, which included a light polo shirt and a mask bearing the Texas flag, according to NBC, who reviewed the materials provided by two sources.
“The rendering featured a manipulated photo of Cruz from his well-documented trip to Mexico, dragging his luggage across an arctic landscape while holding a tropical cocktail garnished with a slice of fruit in his other hand,” Lee and Caldwell wrote.
The printouts also included a crossover meme, with Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont’s viral pose in mittens at President Joe Biden’s inauguration photoshopped into the frigid backdrop, according to NBC.
A recent string of high-profile drug plane interceptions suggests the once tranquil Mexican state of Quintana Roo is being increasingly relied upon as a drug trafficking hub.
On February 5, local media reports claimed a Cessna-type jet suspected of being used by drug traffickers had been found partially incinerated after it landed in the community of Nuevo Tabasco, close to Quintana Roo’s border with Campeche.
Military officials were present at the site, as it was suspected drugs transported by the plane might have been hidden in mountains surrounding the illegal landing spot, according to local media outlet, Quadratín Quintana Roo.
The report added that the aircraft had been detected by Mexico’s air force earlier that morning, before it was found partially destroyed hours later.
Last year, the state saw a number of irregular landings linked to drug trafficking.
In October, Mexico’s President Andrés Manuel López Obrador confirmed in a morning press conference that a plane carrying 1.5 tons of cocaine had landed at Chetumal Airport in southern Quintana Roo just hours earlier.
López Obrador reported that three suspicious jets had been detected entering Mexican airspace before they were swiftly pursued by members of the nation’s military and Secretary of National Defense. While one plane landed in Chetumal, with authorities subsequently detaining a member of its crew, the remaining two aircraft managed to evade authorities.
Military sources suggested the planes could have arrived in the state from Colombia or Venezuela, according to Sol Quintana Roo.
Last July, the state’s then-police chief, Alberto Capella, tweeted that a plane suspected of being involved in illicit activities had strikingly landed on a public highway in the municipality of Chunhuhub.
After consulting military sources, Milenio reported the Hawker 700 jet had initiated its journey in Venezuela, before landing on the Mexican road in broad daylight, where a truck was awaiting its descent. The media outlet added that authorities later found both vehicles abandoned, discovering just under half a ton of cocaine worth over $5.2 million left in the deserted truck.
Authorities intercepted an aircraft piloted by two Bolivian nationals traveling from Argentina to Mexico’s largely touristic Cozumel island in January 2020, seizing around a ton of cocaine in the process.
Most crews have evaded capture, despite being traced and pursued by authorities.
Just beyond Quintana Roo’s southern border, Belize has also seen such flights land illegally, as drugs are increasingly trafficked northward. On January 29 of this year, a clandestine aircraft carrying over 90 kilograms of suspected cocaine disembarked in the nation, with nine people detained following its descent, media outlet Amandala reported.
InSight Crime analysis
Illicit flights disembarking in the state have largely carried sizeable shipments of cocaine, ultimately fueled by record production of the drug in a host of South American countries including Colombia, Bolivia and Peru.
While 2021 has only seen one such flight disembark in Quintana Roo so far, last year eight aircraft linked to drug trafficking were reported to have made irregular landings in the state, preceded by 2019’s staggering total of 14, according to the Quadratín Quintana Roo.
However, the media outlet added that Mexico’s air surveillance system – controlled by the nation’s air force – reports an average of three irregular flights made within the state’s boundaries per week.
Although cocaine has passed through Quintana Roo for decades, security analyst Alejandro Hope told InSight Crime that an increased number of drug flights landing in the state in recent years may be a product of the tightening land border between Mexico and Central American countries, as well as former US President Donald Trump’s pressure on the Mexican government to act in this respect.
Most of the drugs that are successfully transported on from Quintana Roo ultimately reach the US, while some are shipped to Europe or remain in Mexico for domestic production, according to Hope.
The analyst added that those who receive the cocaine in Quintana Roo may be linked to the Jalisco Cartel New Generation (CJNG). The drugs may also be collected by residual members of the Gulf Cartel and Zetas, who have been known to operate in the state, Hope suggested.
InSight Crime reported on how Quintana Roo has seen an increase in violence related to organized crime of late, with independent cartels battling for control over lucrative drug distribution points. Such battles have been spilling over into events attended by tourists, allegedly including a music festival in Tulum last October.
GOP Sen. Ted Cruz on Tuesday said his wife, Heidi Cruz, was “pretty pissed” about leaked texts from a group chat regarding their controversial jaunt to Cancun, Mexico, last week.
“Heidi’s pretty pissed at that,” Cruz said on the “Ruthless” podcast, referring to the leaked texts. “She actually was over at her neighbor’s house yesterday sort of walking through.”
After news broke of the Cruz’s trip to Cancun, texts were leaked to Insider and the New York Times from a group chat in which Heidi appeared to urge neighbors to join them on the excursion.
“It’s a sign of how ridiculously politicized and nasty and just … You know, here’s a suggestion: just don’t be —holes,” Cruz said. “Just treat each other as human beings. Have some degree, some modicum of respect.”
The Texas Republican has faced a wave of criticism and mockery for traveling to Cancun as his state faced a deadly winter storm, leaving millions without power, on top of the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cruz was spotted traveling to Cancun last Wednesday. Within less than a day, Cruz changed his travel plans and flew back to Texas.
He blamed the trip on his daughters, stating that they wanted to go to Cancun and be a “good dad.” Cruz told reporters that the original plan was to stay in Cancun through the weekend, but the “firestorm” he saw in response to the trip led him to return early. The Texas senator conceded that the tropical vacation was “obviously a mistake.”
The Ritz-Carlton can house over 360 guests and features two award-winning restaurants – Fantino and The Club Grill.
Guests can visit Fantino, an upscale Mediterranean restaurant decorated with Old World-style elegance, or enjoy live jazz music at The Club Grill.
Hotel visitors can also participate in a private dining experience from their balcony with the hotel’s 24-hour dining services or try the resort’s expansive tequila menu at D-Lounge, which is home to over 100 different tequila options.
The Ritz-Carlton also has interactive meal services. The Culinary Center has an oceanfront kitchen where award-winning chefs prepare a custom meal, teaching the guests throughout the process.
While visitors can enjoy private beach cabanas and lounges off the ocean, the hotel features a wide variety of other aquatic amenities, including two swimming pools and a whirlpool that looks out on the ocean.
The Ritz-Carlton has one of the area’s best spas, according to Forbes. The 5,500-square-foot spa focuses on Mayan-inspired healing practices.
Additionally, guests looking to relax in their rooms can enjoy 400-count Egyptian cotton sheets, large marble bathrooms with a separate shower and bathtub, as well as bi-daily cleaning services.
Cruz, who said he planned to work in Cancun, would have likely used the resort’s full service Business Center and childcare options.
Cruz cut his stay at the Ritz-Carlton short after a picture of the senator at the airport went viral.
He decided to only stay at the hotel for one night after multiple state residents expressed outrage at his decision to leave Texas in the middle of a deep freeze that left many Texans without electricity, heat, or fresh water.
US citizens flying south of the border for vacation has been a common practice since the early days of the health crisis, despite all the warnings against non-essential travel.
One of the few countries open to Americans
The onset of the pandemic saw most nations take the drastic step of closing their borders to the world, with countless remaining closed today. As of late November, an Insider investigation found that less than 100 countries had reopened their borders to Americans and some had instituted strict parameters for travelers, including a negative COVID-19 test taken before departure and upon arrival.
But even as the US, Mexico, and Canada agreed to close their shared land borders to non-essential travel at the pandemic’s peak, a loophole continues to allow air travelers to cross both borders. Travelers arriving in Canada are faced with a quarantine and testing requirement while those bound for Mexico do not have to endure either, opening travel opportunities to the latter.
For the most part, Americans never experienced a lack of air travel options to Mexico even as the pandemic shuttered countless global air links and the land border remained closed throughout.
No such arrangement exists in Mexico, a country largely dependent on American tourism for revenue. Health screenings may be performed upon arrival in certain circumstances, according to the US Embassy in Mexico, but Americans need not produce a negative test as a prerequisite for entry into Mexico.
Ryan Ewing, the founder and president of the aviation news website AirlineGeeks, traveled to Mexico twice during the pandemic with no issues getting in or out.
“Mexico was a safe vacation spot for me,” Ewing, who flew to Mexico in July and December, told Insider. “Access was easy and straightforward with a small health form to fill out and no additional quarantine measures, unlike some U.S. states which require stringent testing measures.”
The US Embassy says the additional health checks may include a temperature screening and passengers showing symptoms may be required to quarantine.
Cheap flights galore
Air travel has seen a drop in demand that rivals the worst economic periods in American history, leading to some seriously low prices for airfare. Those needing to take to the skies have likely been paying some of the lowest rates in their lifetime on normally expensive routes, especially those to Mexico.
As Scott Keyes, founder of the flight deal website Scott’s Cheap Flights, noted on Twitter, a last-minute flight from Cancun to Houston on United, the same routing and airline as Cruz, could be had for as little as $101 on the day of the senator’s return.
With rates like that, it’s no surprise that Cruz found himself without a complimentary upgrade to business class as a United Airlines elite status holder.
A breakdown of a similarly priced $102.11 fare from Cancun to Houston for February 22 on United shows the airline is only bringing in around $30 in airfare while the rest is taxes and fees that go to the US and Mexican governments.
What airlines lose in airfare, however, they hope to make up for by selling extras. The $102 basic economy fare doesn’t include items like checked baggage allowance, advance seat assignments, and other ancillary products that airlines want to sell as the revenue generated isn’t taxed.
New CDC testing requirements force travelers to adjust plans
The CDC, however, began requiring proof of a negative COVID-19 test for entry into the US in late January to prevent the importation of the virus from abroad. Inbound arrivals, including American citizens, now need to show they tested negative for the virus within the three calendar days leading up to their US-bound flight.
The requirement has affected airlines flying to international leisure destinations, including Mexico.
United Airlines is investigating the leak of Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s flight information for a trip to Cancun, Mexico earlier this week, Politico reported.
“It’s against United’s policies to share personal information about our customers and we are investigating this incident,” a company executive told Politico in a statement, adding that whoever leaked the information may be fired.
Cruz drew intense backlash this week for traveling to Cancun with his family while Texas was in the middle of a devastating blackout caused by a winter storm. As millions in the state lost power and were forced to live in freezing conditions without heat, water, or electricity, the senator left for Cancun with his family on Wednesday.
In an initial statement on Thursday, Cruz said he went on the trip because he wanted “to be a good dad” and added that he intended to return to the US that afternoon.
“With school cancelled for the week, our girls asked to take a trip with friends,” he said. “Wanting to be a good dad, I flew down with them last night and am flying back this afternoon.”
An editor at Thrifty Traveler tweeted out what appeared to be Cruz’s flight information showing that the senator planned to travel back Thursday afternoon. But Skift’s Edward Russell tweeted that he spoke to a source at United who said Cruz had only made the return booking around 6 a.m. ET on Thursday and was originally scheduled to come back on Saturday. NBC’s Peter Alexander also confirmed the schedule change.
A series of text messages that Cruz’s wife, Heidi, appears to have sent out also indicated that the family was planning for a longer getaway.
“Anyone can or want to leave for the week?” said one of the texts, which were obtained by Insider and other news outlets. “We may go to Cancun there is a direct flight at 445pm and hotels w capacity. Seriously.”
Another text appeared to show Heidi Cruz saying in the group chat, “the Ritz Carlton has rooms at like $300 and we’ve been there many times great property god security etc no issues.”
It continued: “I’ll confirm on the covid we need to call the hotel this am to confirm that but you just test when you arrive as needs to be 3days before return.”
Cruz has drawn harsh criticism from Democrats for leaving the state amid the power outage. Former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke, who challenged Cruz in the 2018 Senate midterm elections, ripped him for “vacationing in Cancun right now when people are literally freezing to death in the state that he was elected to represent and serve.”
New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reiterated her demand that Cruz resign from office.
“If Sen. Cruz had resigned back in January after helping gin up a violent insurrection that killed several people, he could’ve taken his vacation in peace,” she said in a tweet. “Texans should continue to demand his resignation.”
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton jabbed Republican Sen. Ted Cruz for his decision to travel to Cancun, Mexico, amid a catastrophic winter storm in Texas and allegedly leaving behind his pet dog, Snowflake.
“Don’t vote for anyone you wouldn’t trust with your dog,” Clinton tweeted on Friday after a picture of Snowflake looking out from Cruz’s dark family mansion went viral on social media.
The picture of the pooch was taken by Houston-based journalist Michael Hardy, who wrote an article in New York Magazine on Friday titled: “Ted Cruz Abandons Millions of Freezing Texans and His Poodle, Snowflake.”
In the article, Hardy described driving down to the senator’s home in the River Oaks neighborhood to “check out” his “power situation” after Cruz claimed his family, like millions of others, were without heat and water.
Upon his arrival at the “dark and uninhabited” mansion, Hardy described hearing a bark before noticing a small, white dog looking out of the front door window.
“As I approached to knock, a man stepped out of the Suburban parked in Cruz’s driveway. ‘Is this Senator Cruz’s house?’ I asked. He said it was, that Cruz wasn’t home, and identified himself as a security guard,” Hardy wrote, according to New York Magazine.
“When asked who was taking care of the dog, the guard volunteered that he was. Reassured of the dog’s well-being, I returned to my car,” Hardy added.
It was shortly after this conversation that the journalist took a picture of the dog and tweeted it out to his followers, writing: “Also, Ted appears to have left behind the family poodle.”
Hardy later added: “Just to clarify, this was taken around 1 pm central on Thursday. It’s possible Ted brought the poodle back from Cancun with him, or that a family member was staying behind to take care of the dog.”
Upon realizing his mistake, the Texas Senator cut his trip short and flew back to Texas almost 24 hours after departing.
In an interview with reporters, he explained that he was only dropping off his daughters on a vacation with their friends because his family had “lost heat and water.” He also added that he had planned to return the following day.
“Look, it was obviously a mistake. In hindsight, I wouldn’t have done it. I was trying to be a dad,” Cruz said.
“Is everyone warm? That’s a must! We could all huddle in one house, [name’s] had heat,” Heidi wrote. “Anyone can or want to leave for the week? We may go to Cancun, there is a direct flight at 445pm and hotels with capacity. Seriously.”
United Airlines confirmed later that Cruz’s flight back to Houston was originally scheduled to return on Saturday, according to NBC News.
Cruz is not the first politician to have been embroiled in dog-related drama.
In 2007, Sen. Mit Romeny found himself the subject of negative media attention after it was reported that in 1983, he had traveled 12 hours to Canada with his Irish Setter, Seamus, strapped to the roof of the car in a kennel.
Romney’s dog reportedly had diarrhea during the trip, which was only noticed after Romney’s son saw brown liquid dripping down the back window. The senator, who was still a businessman at the time, had to hose the dog off and stuffed him back into the crate.
This incident, condemned by PETA, was used to attack Romney in both his 2008 and the 2012 presidential elections.