Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders on Monday stood by his defense of Cuban revolution spearheaded by Fidel Castro, with and bland blunt statement: “The truth is the truth.”
The senator has been a subject of bipartisan criticism since his interview on “60 Minutes” at CBS that aired Sunday night in which he praised the Castro’s leadership for the literacy program launched in early years of the communist revolution adding that “it’s unfair to simply say everything is bad”.
Speaking during CNN’s presidential town hall in South Carolina, the social-democrat on Monday night again talked up the literacy program launched by the country in its first years.
“There were a lot of folks in Cuba at that point who were illiterate. He formed the literacy brigade,” Sanders said. “(Castro) went out and they helped people learn to read and write. You know what, I think teaching people to read and write is a good thing.”
He added: “I have been extremely consistent and critical of all authoritarian regimes all over the world including Cuba, including Nicaragua, including Saudi Arabia, including China, including Russia. I happen to believe in democracy, not authoritarianism.”
Sanders also dismissed the criticism he received form member of Congress as politically motivated.
“If you want to disagree with me, if somebody wants to say — and by the way, all of those congresspeople that you mentioned just so happen to be supporting other candidates, just accidentally, no doubt. Coincidentally,” Sanders said. “But the truth is the truth, and that’s what happened in the first years of the Castro regime.”
Although none was mentioned, neither Representative Donna Shalala nor Debbie Mucarsel-Powell who criticized the senators have officially endorsed any Democrat primary candidate and both lawmakers are from South Florida.
Responding to comments made by the Democratic presidential candidate, former South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg in his own CNN town hall on Monday remarked, “As a Democrat, I do not want to be explaining why our nominee is encouraging people to look in the bright side of the Castro regime going into the election of our lives.”
When aske it he could appreciate the nuance of Senator’s remarks which included the brutal human rights abuses by the dictator (Castro), Buttigieg seemed incensed.
“Of course, literacy is a good thing,” he said, “but why are we spotlighting the literacy programs of a brutal dictator instead of being unambiguous in our condemnation about the way he was treating his own people?”
Tom Steyer separately in his town hall on Monday called Sander remarks an inappropriate. The billionaire businessman asserted that he would never praise “unelected leaders of countries who completely control without any form of democracy, justice or equality.”
Castro who passed away in 2016 is a controversial figure among the Capitalists and torchbearers of democracy and self-styled Champions of Human rights but also a left a legacy wrapped in socialist economic model that is praised by many in Americas. He stuck to his principles and one-party Communist rule despite the disintegration of USSR and failure of communist ideology in other parts of the world including North Korea.
Sanders who calls himself a social democrat has cemented his place as the front-runner vying as a Democratic nominee in the Presidential race after claiming the Nevada caucuses on Saturday.