As the mayor of Burlington, Vermont, Bernie Sanders may or may not have actually thought that the existence of Depression-like bread lines prompted by food shortages was a good thing in socialist Nicaragua under dictator Daniel Ortega and the Sandinista National Liberation Front, according to newly surfaced vintage video.
Back then, Sanders praised the Ortega government, as well as Cuba under Fidel Castro. Sanders visited Nicaragua in July of 1985, and also separately traveled to Cuba.
Sanders remarks about the two regimes became an issue in early March during the Univision debate in Miami, televised by CNN, during which he was challenged on his support for those governments.
The Vermont Senator, a self-described socialist who is running for president as a Democrat, has said on a number of other occasions that he now favors European-style social democracy for the U.S. to emulate.
"Bernie Sanders has sought to separate his views from those of tyrannical socialist regimes throughout history. The problem is that back in the 1980s, Sanders was outspoken in his support of communist dictator Fidel Castro as well as the Soviet-aligned Sandinista government in Nicaragua," the Libertarian Republic noted.
Daily Beast columnist Michael Moynihan expounded on Sanders' Sandinista connection.
"In the 1980s, any Bernie Sanders event or interview inevitably wended toward a denunciation of Washington's Central America policy, typically punctuated with a full-throated defense of the dictatorship in Nicaragua…While opposition to [President] Reagan's policy in Central America—including indefensible decisions like the mining of Managua harbor—was common amongst mainstream Democrats, it was rare to find outright support for the Soviet-funded, Cuban-trained Sandinista...But despite its aversion to elections, brutal suppression of dissent, hideous mistreatment of indigenous Nicaraguans, and rejection of basic democratic norms, Sanders thought Managua's Marxist-Leninist clique had much to teach Burlington..."
Back in the day, Sanders also seemed to claim that the food shortage issue under the Sandinistas actually was a positive development. See clip below.
"It's funny; sometimes American journalists talk about how bad a country is, that people are lining up for food. That is a good thing. In other countries, people don't line up for food: the rich get the food and the poor starve to death."