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…”
In the above-referenced debate against presumed front-runner Hillary Clinton, Sanders acknowledged that authoritarian Cuba lacks is undemocratic and that his pro-Castro/Ortega remarks at the time came in the context of opposition to U.S. policy. “What that was about was saying that the United States was wrong to try to invade Cuba, that the United States was wrong trying to support people to overthrow the Nicaraguan government, that the United States was wrong trying to overthrow in 1954 the democratically elected government of Guatemala.”
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.”
On his campaign website, Bernie Sanders explains, among other things, that he opposed President Reagan’s plan to fund the Contras, the insurgency group which was then fighting the Sandinistas, and indicates that he found the “intelligence and sincerity” of the Sandinista leadership impressive. “[Sanders] visited Nicaragua in the summer of 1985 to condemn the war on the people there and came back very influenced by their health care, education, and land reform.”
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In 2014, the Nicaraguan legislature controlled by Ortega — who came back to power in January of 2007 — abolished constitutional term limits, which will allow Ortega to run for reelection this year for a third consecutive term (fourth overall) as president. His first term in office was from 1985 to 1990. Opposition parties have alleged fraud in prior elections.
Bernie Sanders spent his honeymoon in the former Soviet Union as part of his official duties as mayor of Burlington. According to Investor’s Business Daily, Bernie Sanders entered middle age before he began earning a regular paycheck, upon his election as Burlington’s mayor.
In a separate Daily Beast column, Russian chess champion Gary Kasparov, who lived under a socialistic system in the Soviet Union before it broke apart, insisted that “Sanders’s socialist policies would replace banks that are too big to fail with a government that is too big to succeed.”
Sanders recently argued on CNN that with his caucus victory momentum, he will be able to dislodge the super delegates who are already committed, for now, to voting for Hillary Clinton’s presidential nomination at the Democrat convention this summer.
Going into tomorrow’s Wisconsin primary, Bernie Sanders supposedly holds a 2.6 percent lead over Hillary Clinton, according to the Real Clear Politics average.
After extensive negotiations, the next debate between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton has been nailed down: it will occur on April 14 in Brooklyn, New York, and will be televised on CNN.
Do you think that Bernie Sanders’ opinion about the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua has, or will have, a bearing on the presidential election?
[Photo by Paul Sancya/AP]