Socialist presidential candidate doubles down on comments
Just days after presidential candidate Bernie Sanders praised Cuban dictator Fidel Castro’s “massive literacy program,” he doubled down by claiming Communist China took “more people out of extreme poverty than any country in history.”
During CNN’s “60 Minutes” on Sunday, the socialist candidate argued it was unfair to say everything about socialist Cuba was bad.
“We’re very opposed to the authoritarian nature of Cuba, but, you know, it’s unfair to simply say everything is bad,” Sanders said.
“You know? When Fidel Castro came into office, you know what he did?” Sanders asked.
“He had a massive literacy program. Is that a bad thing? Even though Fidel Castro did it?”
Sanders faced a backlash from both left and right for his comments, including Democratic Florida Rep. Donna Shalala, who said he should “speak to some” of her Cuban constituents before defending “a murderous tyrant.”
Former New York Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg tweeted a response to Sanders comments:
“Fidel Castro left a dark legacy of forced labor camps, religious repression, widespread poverty, firing squads, and the murder of thousands of his own people.”
“But sure, Bernie, let’s talk about his literacy program.”
Pete Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend, Ind., tweeted:
“After four years of looking on in horror as Trump cozied up to dictators, we need a president who will be extremely clear in standing against regimes that violate human rights abroad. We can’t risk nominating someone who doesn’t recognize this.”
But Sanders on Monday stood by his partial defense of Castro, stating bluntly, “The truth is the truth.”
After four years of looking on in horror as Trump cozied up to dictators, we need a president who will be extremely clear in standing against regimes that violate human rights abroad. We can’t risk nominating someone who doesn’t recognize this. pic.twitter.com/N2JHGzns93
— Pete Buttigieg (@PeteButtigieg) February 24, 2020
An immigrant, who fled #communism in her native Lithuania, has spoken out to warn Bernie Sanders supporters of the dangers of #socialism, saying they “do not understand what they are doing.”
READ MORE: https://t.co/etNlMKsO2r
— Neon Nettle (@NeonNettle) February 24, 2020
“There were a lot of folks in Cuba at that point who were illiterate. He formed the literacy brigade,” Sanders said.
“(Castro) went out, and they helped people learn to read and write. You know what? I think teaching people to read and write is a good thing.”
CNN host Chris Cuomo asked Sanders about the “stigma that’s coming from some of your fellow Democrats.”
“They’re attacking your comment as absolutely unacceptable, singing the praises of a murderous tyrant,” said Cuomo.
“When Castro first came to power … you know what he did?” Sanders asked.
“I have been extremely consistent and critical of all authoritarian regimes all over the world, including Cuba, including Nicaragua, including Saudi Arabia, including China, including Russia,” he continued.
“I happen to believe in democracy, not authoritarianism. But you know, you can take China as another example. China is an authoritarian country becoming more and more authoritarian,” he continued.
“But can anyone deny, I mean the facts are clear, that they have taken more people out of extreme poverty than any country in history. Do I get criticized because I say that? That’s the truth. So that is a fact. End of discussion.”
Cuomo asked why anyone would give a dictator like Castro “a pat on the back for anything.”
Sanser failed to give an elaborate reply and just responded by saying, “the truth is truth.”