Over the weekend, Cuba observed its largest anti-communism protests in decades. In reaction to economic turmoil and a lack of civil liberties, citizens across the island erupted with protests against the regime.
In response to the protests, one of America’s leading socialists — Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) — made no mention of communism, socialism, Marxism, or any other adjacent ideology as factors behind the Cuban people’s movement.
“All people have the right to protest and to live in a democratic society,” tweeted the lawmaker on Monday evening. “I call on the Cuban government to respect opposition rights and refrain from violence. It’s also long past time to end the unilateral U.S. embargo on Cuba, which has only hurt, not helped, the Cuban people.”
Sanders — who self-identifies as a “democratic socialist” and actively favors causes such as expanding federal healthcare programs, raising taxes on the wealthy, and the Green New Deal — has been apologetic toward the Cuban regime for decades. Indeed, the degree to which he is apologetic seems to depend on whether or not he is running for a national election.
During the 2020 Democratic presidential primary race, Sanders was confronted with his past endorsement of communist dictatorships on the debate stage. Though he asserted that “authoritarianism of any stripe is bad,” he stressed the need to laud Cuba for its purported accomplishments: “Cuba made progress on education. Literacy programs are bad?”
His comments were met by boos from the audience — to which he responded “Really?”
Former Rep. Donna Shalala (D-FL) slammed Sanders for his comments: “He doesn’t get it… And he doesn’t understand that healthcare in Cuba is just awful. That’s why so many Cuban-Americans are taking medicines down to Cuba… And their education system? Give me a break.”
In the 2016 campaign — during which Sanders also sought the Democratic nomination — CNN anchor Anderson Cooper again pressed the lawmaker on his affable approach to Cuba. He responded: “Do I support the economic policies or their political policies? Of course, I don’t. But you know what else? Cuba produces a lot of physicians… They go to poor countries around the world doing a lot of good… By and large, Cuba’s educational system, for a poor country, is pretty good. When Castro came to power, they did a lot to eliminate illiteracy in that country.”
Decades earlier, Sanders spoke far more freely about his desire to see Cuba’s communist revolution endure.
“But I remember for some reason rather being very excited when Fidel Castro made the revolution in Cuba, and it just seemed right and appropriate that poor people were rising up against rather ugly rich people,” Sanders explained of his teenage years. “And I remember watching the Nixon-Kennedy debates and I was very excited and impressed about the Cuban revolution… And Kennedy was saying that Nixon was too soft on communism… I actually got up from the room and almost left to puke.”
Hopefully, the current protests in Cuba will soon ensure that there will no longer be a Cuban regime for Sanders to support.
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