Former Vice President Joe Biden criticized his progressive rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), on Monday for praising Fidel Castro, despite his own record on Cuba.
Biden, who has been eclipsed by Sanders in his quest for the Democrat nomination, released a statement attacking the Vermont septuagenerian for taking a soft stance on the Castro regime during a 60 Minutes interview on Sunday. In particular, the former vice president claimed that Sanders’ comments exhibited “a larger pattern” of embracing “autocratic leaders and governments across the globe.”
“He seems to have found more inspiration in the Soviets, Sandinistas, Chavistas, and Castro than in America,” said Cristóbal Alex, a senior adviser for the Biden campaign.
Alex proceeded to argue that Sanders’s “admiration for elements of Castro’s dictatorship or at least [his] willingness to look past Cuba’s human rights violations” was not just “dangerous,” but also “deeply offensive.”
The tough rhetoric stands in start contrast to the policies Biden championed while part of the Obama administration. In December 2014, when then-President Barack Obama announced his administration would normalize diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba, Biden stood firmly behind the idea.
“I’ve had a chance to meet every leader, of every country, in the hemisphere, and the single act–beginning a normalized relationship with Cuba–has lifted an enormous burden off of them,” the former vice president said when defending the policy during visit to Florida in May 2016.
“It’s had multiple benefits so far,” Biden added. “It’s paid important foreign policy dividends.”
A few short months after those remarks were made, the Obama administration dispatched Dr. Jill Biden to Cuba as further proof of its goodwill. As part of the trip, Jill Biden took part in discussions with Cuban officials on topics as varied as education, healthcare, and female empowerment.
Well after the trip took place and the Bidens left the White House, the former vice president continued defending Obama’s policy on Cuba. Most notably, Biden has lambasted the Trump administration’s decision to take a sterner stance with the Castro regime over its human rights record.
“The president … has rolled back the travel and commerce that afforded Cuban entrepreneurs and families greater independence from the Communist state,” Biden wrote in an op-ed for Americas Quarterly in December 2017.