Shots Fired: Pete Buttigieg Knocks Bernie Sanders for Praising Fidel Castro

28th September 1960: Cuban president Fidel Castro speaks to reporters after attending the UN General Assembly meeting, New York City. (Photo by New York Times Co./Getty Images)
New York Times Co./Getty Images

Pete Buttigieg (D) joined the mounting critics of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) following the socialist senator praising aspects of the Fidel Castro’s tyrannical regime in Cuba.

“After four years of looking on in horror as Trump cozied up to dictators, we need a president who will be extremely clear in standing against regimes that violate human rights abroad. We can’t risk nominating someone who doesn’t recognize this,” the former South Bend mayor wrote alongside a video of Sanders’ controversial 60 Minutes remarks:

Sanders made waves after telling Anderson Cooper that it is “unfair” to characterize everything that happened under the brutal dictator’s regime as “bad,” stating that the Cuban people did not revolt because Castro “educated their kids, gave them health care, [and] totally transformed the society.”

As Breitbart News noted:

He did not mention the multiple revolts against Castro that did occur, including the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion sabotaged by Democrat President John F. Kennedy and the waves of protests that resulted in the brutal “Black Spring” crackdown of 2003.

“We’re very opposed to the authoritarian nature of Cuba but you know, it’s unfair to simply say everything is bad. You know? When Fidel Castro came into office, you know what he did? He had a massive literacy program,” Sanders contended.

“Is that a bad thing? Even though Fidel Castro did it?” he asked.

While Cooper noted the communist government’s role in punishing dissidents, Sanders effectively dismissed the point, telling the anchor, “That’s right. 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,” Sanders added:

Buttigieg is far from the only Democrat to distance himself from Sanders’ praise of the authoritarian leader. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D-FL) also slammed the socialist senator’s remarks, calling them “absolutely unacceptable.”

“The Castro regime murdered and jailed dissidents, and caused unspeakable harm to too many South Florida families,” she said. “To this day, it remains an authoritarian regime that oppresses its people, subverts the free press, and stifles a free society”:

“I’m hoping that in the future, Senator Sanders will take time to speak to some of my constituents before he decides to sing the praises of a murderous tyrant like Fidel Castro,” Rep. Donna E. Shalala (D-FL) said:

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) also condemned Sanders’ remarks.

“Likely Dem nominee praised the supposed ‘achievements’ Castro regime,” he wrote, explaining that Sanders is “wrong about why people didn’t overthrow Castro.”

“It’s not because ‘he educated their kids, gave them health care’ it‘s because his opponents were jailed, murdered or exiled,” he added:

It remains unclear how Sanders’ statements will affect his standing with Democrat voters in Florida, but Monday’s RealClearPolitics rolling average showed the socialist senator facing an uphill battle. He currently trails both Joe Biden (D) and Mike Bloomberg (D) in the Sunshine State.

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