There is a new interest in an old video of Bernie Sanders from decades ago, when Bernie was Mayor Sanders of Burlington, Vermont — back in 1985. On August 8, 1985, specifically, Bernie began speaking about Fidel Castro in a manner that is making news in 2016, now that Sanders wants to become President Sanders. With talk of food rationing and praise for breadlines, the video of Senator Sanders speaking about the Cuban dictator is going viral.
The things that Sanders said during the 1985 interview are coming back to haunt him, as Bernie’s detractors and political pundits start vetting presidential candidates even closer. In the video, the senator began talking about visiting Nicaragua, and then compared Castro to Nicaraguan leader Daniel Ortega.
“In 1961, [America] invaded Cuba, and everybody was totally convinced that Castro was the worst guy in the world. All the Cuban people were going to rise up in rebellion against Fidel Castro. They forgot that he educated their kids, gave their kids health care, totally transformed society. You know, not to say Fidel Castro and Cuba are perfect – they are certainly not – but just because Ronald Reagan dislikes these people does not mean to say the people in these nations feel the same.”
As reported by Politico, it was words like those from Sanders that forced Bernie to respond to them during a political debate more than 30 years after Sanders said them in 1985. Bernie was once again face-to-face with his former thoughts about Castro, who was no longer president of Cuba by 2008. As far as Ortega, Sanders said in 1985 that he was an impressive guy.
“I was impressed by Father d’Escoto. If this guy is the foreign minister of a ‘terrorist nation,’ then they should get another foreign minister, because he is a very gentle, very loving man.”
It was Senator Sanders’ criticism of President Ronald Reagan, who was president in 1985, and Reagan’s foreign policy that brought Bernie attention as well.
“The Sandinista government, in my view, has more support among the Nicaraguan people, substantially more support, than Ronald Reagan has among the American people. If President Reagan thinks that any time a government comes along, which in its wisdom, rightly or wrongly, is doing the best for its people, he has the right to overthrow that government, you’re going to be at war not only with all of Latin America, but with the entire Third World.”
The video from 1985 was played during Univision’s Democratic presidential debate in Miami in early March, with the debate’s moderator Maria Elena Salinas prefacing the video clip of Sanders about his praise for controversial regimes. The video clip brought plenty of backlash from supporters of Senator Sanders, who filled social media with comments that Bernie’s words from 1985 shouldn’t matter in 2016.
Although Bernie has been deemed a Democratic socialist, Sanders would not take back the comments he made in 1985. They were comments that gave former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton ammunition to criticize Sanders, and she attempted to make Bernie’s supporters think of socialism in America versus socialism in Nicaragua, Cuba, and Venezuela.
The Clinton campaign used Sanders’ words against him in an email sent to journalists titled, “Bernie Sanders Refuses to Disavow Praise for Fidel Castro.” The fact that Bernie brought up the phrase “revolution of values” in the 1985 video clip was something Hillary pounced upon.
Meanwhile, Sanders explained that he called it wrong for the U.S. to attempt to invade Cuba. They are views that have been called radical by Bernie’s opponents. In the above photo of Sanders, taken on March 31, the Democratic presidential candidate can be seen in Pittsburgh at a campaign stop.
[AP Photo/Keith Srakocic]