Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has a long history of praising the Cuban regime, which is currently cracking down on protesters demanding freedom after decades of communist rule.
Sanders came under scrutiny for initially remaining silent on protests that erupted in Cuba over the weekend, before issuing a statement late Monday night. His statement urged the government to refrain from violence, but also criticized the United States for its trade embargo on the island country.
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The protests could put Sanders in an awkward position, given his consistent praise for the Communist regime.
Sanders defended his past praise for late Cuban dictator Fidel Castro in an interview he gave last year while leading the Democratic presidential primary.
“We are very opposed to the authoritarian nature of Cuba but, you know, it’s unfair to just say that everything is wrong,” Sanders said in a “60 Minutes” interview. “You know? When Fidel Castro came to power you know what he did? He had a massive literacy program. Is that a bad thing? Even though Fidel Castro did?”
Video footage uncovered last year showed Sanders recalling his enthusiasm for the Communist revolution during a speech in the 1980s.
“I remember, for one reason or another, being very excited when [former Cuban dictator] Fidel Castro made the revolution in Cuba, “he said during a speech at the University of Vermont in 1986.” I was a child… and it seemed right and proper for the poor to rise up against rich rather ugly. “
During this speech, Sanders said he almost must have “thrown up” when he saw former President John F. Kennedy push his then opponent, former President Richard Nixon, to be harder. with Cuba. “For the first time in my adult life, what I was seeing were Democrats and Republicans… clearly there wasn’t really much of a difference between the two,” he said.
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Sanders’ other comments included praise of Soviet bread lines and public transport; to defend Castro as someone in Cuba who “educated his children, provided health care for their children, totally transformed society”; and the mocking criticism of the Marxist Sandinista regime in Nicaragua.
Sanders’ office did not return an email from Fox News asking if he regretted any of his past comments about Cuba.
Fox News’ Sam Dorman contributed reporting.
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