Bernie Sanders’ comments on 60 Minutes are causing a firestorm in the Cuban-American community and beyond. During the interview, Anderson Cooper prompted the Democratic presidential candidate to respond to comments he made back in the 80s about “why the Cuban people didn’t rise up and help the U.S. overthrow Cuban leader Fidel Castro.” At the time Sanders had said it was because the Communist dictator, “educated their kids, gave them health care, totally transformed the society, you know?” Now decades later, this is what he said:
“We’re very opposed to the authoritarian nature of Cuba but you know, it’s unfair to simply say everything is bad. You know? When Fidel Castro came into office, you know what he did? He had a massive literacy program. Is that a bad thing? Even though Fidel Castro did it?”
Those comments aren’t sitting well with a lot of people. Many who point out the only reason the Cuban regime told people how to read was so that they could digest propaganda.
Just to be super clear, the "literacy" program Bernie is praising Fidel Castro for was actually a Marxist program to indoctrinate as many people as he possibly could with far left beliefs. Bernie likes it so much because he’d love to have a National Marxism education program too.
— Robby Starbuck (@robbystarbuck) February 24, 2020
For Cuban American voters, hearing @BernieSanders praise murderous, totalitarian dictator Fidel Castro’s regime for ‘literacy programs’ is like telling the Jewish community Hitler wasn’t so awful because the Third Reich invented the Volkswagen automobile👇🏼pic.twitter.com/vAJX2ffbSQ
— Fernand R. Amandi (@AmandiOnAir) February 24, 2020
Two Congresswomen who represent a good portion of Miami, Florida both reacted negatively to Sanders’ remarks. Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL) wrote:
I’m hoping that in the future, Senator Sanders will take time to speak to some of my constituents before he decides to sing the praises of a murderous tyrant like Fidel Castro.
The Castro regime murdered and jailed dissidents, and caused unspeakable harm to too many South Florida families. To this day, it remains an authoritarian regime that oppresses its people, subverts the free press, and stifles a free society.
— Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (@DebbieforFL) February 24, 2020
And Senator Marco Rubio (R-L), a son of Cuban immigrants, added:
“Likely Dem nominee praised the supposed “achievements” Castro regime And he’s wrong about why people didn’t overthrow Castro. It’s not because “he educated their kids,gave them health care” it‘s because his opponents were jailed, murdered or exiled.”
Sanders’s statement is also being weaponized already by people on Fox News.
McCarthy on Fox: This is really a Bernie Sanders party. This is AOC. This is Tlaib. This is Omar. These they call themselves socialist Democrats…This is not the Democratic Party of the past. This is a socialist Democratic Party that thinks Fidel Castro is a good person.
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) February 24, 2020
Fellow Democratic candidates are also raising a red flag about this.
The last 24 hours with Bernie as frontrunner:
1. Praises Fidel Castro
2. Admits he doesn’t know how much his plans will cost
3. Attacks AIPAC
4. Has his surrogate advocate unseating Pelosi
5. Holds rally to have Marianne Williamson endorse him
— Kaivan Shroff (@KaivanShroff) February 24, 2020
Sanders has a long history of praising left-leaning authoritarian leaders in Latin America.
In 1985, Sanders met Nicaraguan leader Daniel Ortega and called him a “very impressive guy.” Ortega recently banned Nicaragua’s largest newspaper from buying ink and newsprint. Sanders also visited Cuba in the 1980s, praising Castro’s social programs while expressing concern about the government’s jailing of political dissidents.