Democratic presidential contender Sen. Bernie Sanders is taking heat from comments he made regarding the last Communist dictator of Cuba, Fidel Castro, in an interview with CBS’ “60 Minutes” program that aired on Sunday.
During that interview, Sanders said it was “unfair” to characterize everything that Castro did as “bad” because he also raised “literacy” and provided “healthcare” for citizens.
Those comments were immediately seized upon by Republicans as dismissive of Castro’s brutal and murderous regime, which did not tolerate political dissent, as noted in particular by Sen. Marco Rubio, (R-Fla.), whose parents fled the regime.
“The likely Dem nominee praised the supposed ‘achievements’ of 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,” he tweeted.
But Sanders is also under fire for his support of a Communist insurgency in Nicaragua in the 1980s, which the Reagan administration opposed.
“Hillary Clinton’s opposition research book on Sanders from 2016 — posted by WikiLeaks after the emails of her campaign chairman, John Podesta, were hacked — has a whole section on the then-Burlington, Vt., mayor’s trip to Nicaragua and chummy support of the Sandinistas in 1985,” the New York Post reported Monday.
According to MSNBC, which obtained a copy of Sanders’ long out-of-print political memoir written in 1997, “As mayor (of Burlington, Vt.), Sanders attracted national attention and controversy for supporting the socialist Sandinista government in Nicaragua, which was fighting a proxy war with the United States under Ronald Reagan.
“In 1985, he became the highest-ranking American official to visit Nicaragua at the time, and met with President Daniel Ortega. In his book, he called the trip ‘profoundly emotional’ and praised Ortega. Burlington and Managua, Nicaragua’s capital, became sister cities,” the news site reported in 2015, as Sanders geared up to launch his 2016 presidential bid.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, also visited Nicaragua, Cuba and the USSR as a young man, has come out in support of Sanders.