Thanks to the recent announcement that Senator Bernie Sanders will once again be running for President in 2020, reporters have again begun to look into his political beliefs and according to video footage of an interview conducted in 1985 with the senator, and published by Mediate, Sanders had high regard for Cuban dictator Fidel Castro as well as Nicaragua’s Sandinista government, but harsh words for then-President Ronald Reagan.
Sanders said during the interview that he was “impressed” by the leaders of the Sandinista government and praised for Fidel Castro.
“Way back in, what was it, 1961, they invaded Cuba,” Sanders said, “and everybody was totally convinced that Castro was the worst guy in the world and all of the Cuban people were going to rise up in rebellion against Fidel Castro. They forgot that he educated their kids, gave their kids healthcare, totally transformed the society.”
“Not that Fidel Castro and Cuba are perfect, they certainly are not,” Sanders added, “but just because Ronald Reagan dislikes these people doesn’t mean that people in their own nations feel the same way.”
Along with that slight, Sanders went so far as to call Reagan a liar, in a slam that might sound reminiscent of many of today’s criticisms of the current president.
When asked about helping the Sandinistas get their message out to the American people, Sanders said:
“Reagan and his people are so sophisticated, they own the airwaves… the media, every time Reagan gives them a photo opportunity, thousands, ‘Thank you, Mr. President, thank you very much for telling us another lie!’”
Sanders later defended his remarks while battling former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. When confronted with the footage, Sander said that, “The key issue here was whether the United States should go around overthrowing small Latin American countries. I think that that was a mistake… both in Nicaragua and Cuba.”
“Look, let’s look at the facts here. Cuba is, of course, an authoritarian undemocratic country, and I hope very much as soon as possible it becomes a democratic country,” Sanders continued according to Mediaite, after an interruption from the moderator.
“But on the other hand… it would be wrong not to state that in Cuba they have made some good advances in health care. They are sending doctors all over the world. They have made some progress in education. I think by restoring full diplomatic relations with Cuba, it will result in significant improvements to the lives of Cubans and it will help the United States and our business community invest.”
Clinton responded by saying, “I think in that same interview, he praised what he called the revolution of values in Cuba and talked about how people were working for the common good, not for themselves.”