Bloomberg Derides Sanders for Remarks Praising Castro

Elections
Mike Bloomberg speaks in Des Moines, Iowa, August 10, 2019. (Gage Skidmore)

Democratic presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg on Monday criticized fellow 2020 contender Bernie Sanders over comments Sanders made praising the regime of the late Cuban Communist leader Fidel Castro.

“Fidel Castro left a dark legacy of forced labor camps, religious repression, widespread poverty, firing squads, and the murder of thousands of his own people. But sure, Bernie, let’s talk about his literacy program,” Bloomberg wrote in a tweet that included a clip of Sanders praising Castro during a 60 Minutes interview.

Bloomberg’s statement came after CBS aired comments Sanders made during the 1980s, in which the Vermont senator claimed that part of the reason the Cuban people did not help the U.S. overthrow Castro’s regime was because the authoritarian leader provided them with health care and education.

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“He educated their kids, gave them health care, totally transformed the society, you know?” Sanders said in the decades-old clip.

“We’re very opposed to the authoritarian nature of Cuba, but, you know, it’s unfair to simply say everything is bad,” Sanders said Sunday on 60 Minutes when confronted with those older comments. He went on to praise Castro’s “massive literacy program,” saying, “Is that a bad thing even though Fidel Castro did it?”

He was, however, careful to clarify that he denounces Castro’s practice of imprisoning political opponents.

“Unlike Donald Trump, let’s be clear: I do not think that Kim Jong-un is a good friend,” Sanders said. “I don’t trade love letters with a murdering dictator. Vladimir Putin [is] not a great friend of mine.”

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