Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders praised former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro’s “massive literacy program” during a CBS “60 Minutes” clip that aired on Sunday.
CNN anchor Anderson Cooper introduced the topic by playing a clip of an 1985 interview with government-access Vermont TV in which Sanders said the Castro regime “educated their kids, gave them healthcare” and “totally transformed the society.”
“We’re very opposed to the authoritarian nature of Cuba, but, you know, it’s unfair to simply say everything is bad,” the Vermont senator told Cooper, responding to the clip. “You know? When Fidel Castro came into office, you know what he did? He had a massive literacy program. Is that a bad thing? Even though Fidel Castro did it?”
“A lot of dissidents imprisoned in Cuba,” Cooper noted. (RELATED: Trey Gowdy Doesn’t Believe That Russia Would Help Trump Against Bernie Sanders)
“That’s right,” said Sanders, “and we condemn that. Unlike Donald Trump. Let’s be clear, you want to, I do not think that Kim Jong-Un is a good friend. I don’t trade love letters with a murdering dictator. Vladimir Putin, not a great friend of mine.” (RELATED: Bernie Sanders Loses It When Bloomberg Calls Him The ‘Best Known Socialist’ Who ‘Happens To Be A Millionaire With Three Houses’)
Last February, the Reagan Battalion Twitter account posted a video of Sanders reminiscing about watching the Nixon-Kennedy debates in 1960 and almost leaving “to puke” when both candidates criticized the Cuban dictator. (RELATED: Bernie Sanders Received Briefing On Russian Attempts To Help Him In 2020 Election And Sow Further Discord Among U.S. Voters)
Video: @BernieSanders, University of Vermont, 1986, recalls his excitement watching Castro’s revolution “rising up against the ugly rich people.” & his sick feeling watching JFK speak out against communism in Cuba.
— Reagan Battalion (@ReaganBattalion) February 21, 2019
“But I remember, for some reason, being very excited when Fidel Castro made the revolution in Cuba,” he said. “I was a kid and I remember reading that.”
In a 1989 statement as mayor of Burlington, Vermont, Sanders praised the Cuban revolution as a “very profound and very deep revolution,” the Washington Examiner reported.
“For better or for worse, the Cuban revolution is a very profound and very deep revolution,” he wrote. “Much deeper than I had understood. More interesting than their providing their people with free health care, free education, free housing … is that they are in fact creating a very different value system than the one we are familiar with.”
The Vermont senator, who easily won the Nevada Democratic caucuses on Saturday, took his wife to the former Soviet Union in 1988. Although the trip occurred right after their marriage, Sanders claimed that it was to establish a “sister city” program with Yaroslavl while he was serving as mayor of Burlington, Vermont.
“The fact is that I went to establish a sister city program with Yaroslavl, then in the Soviet Union, now an important city in Russia which is still in existence today,” Sanders told “MSNBC Live” in 2015. “The purpose of that trip was a sister city. Did it take place after my marriage? It did.” (RELATED: Bernie Claims He Spent Lifetime ‘Fighting Against Authoritarianism’)
However, the Guardian reported that the trip “doubled as a honeymoon with his new wife, Jane.”
“There are some things that [the Soviet Union does] better than we do and which were, in fact, quite impressive,” Sanders said after a trip to the Soviet Union, according to the Washington Examiner. “Subway systems in Moscow costs 5 kopecs — or 7 cents. Faster, cleaner, more attractive and more efficient than any in the U.S. — and cheap. The train trip that we took from Leningrad to Moscow — for Soviet citizens — was very cheap.”