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As thousands of protesters took to the streets of Cuba Sunday evening calling for an end to the country’s communist regime, U.S. lawmakers are speaking out on social media in solidarity with the demonstrations.
However, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who has previously defended some of the policies of Cuba’s previous communist dictator Fidel Castro, has not yet issued a statement.
A spokesperson for Sanders did not immediately return Fox News’ request for comment.
Following his win during Nevada’s caucus in the 2020 Democratic primaries, Sanders was asked by Anderson Cooper during an interview on CBS’ “60 Minutes” why the Cuban people didn’t rise up and help the U.S. overthrow the Castro regime. Sanders replied that the dictator “educated their kids, gave their kids health care, totally transformed the society.”
“We’re very very opposed to the authoritarian nature of Cuba but you know, it’s unfair to simply say everything is bad,” Sanders explained. “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?”
Cooper proceeded to push back against Sanders, noting many political dissidents were imprisoned in Cuba.
“That’s right. And we condemn that,” Sanders said. “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.”
The defense during the 2020 election season came after Sanders praised the communist dictator in a resurfaced speech given at the University of Vermont in 1986.
“I remember, for some reason or another, being very excited when Fidel Castro made the revolution in Cuba,” he said at the time. “I was a kid … and it just seemed right and appropriate that poor people were rising up against rather ugly rich people.”
His comments prompted backlash from both sides of the political aisle. Sanders’ seeming affinity for communist policies doesn’t end with Cuba. As was widely reported while the Vermont senator ran for president, he went on a “honeymoon” to the Soviet Union with his wife Jane in 1988.
Sanders isn’t the only one to remain silent on Cuba.
Fox News also reached out to the White House for comment. Press Secretary Jen Psaki referred Fox News to the National Security Council, which then referred to Psaki’s comments on Cuba during an interview with MSNBC. Psaki addressed the lack of fundamental resources in Cuba during that interview.
Fox News has also reached out to State Department spokesman Ned Price but has not heard back.
Jake Sullivan, the White House national security adviser, took to Twitter to say the “U.S. supports freedom of expression and assembly across Cuba, and would strongly condemn any violence or targeting of peaceful protesters who are exercising their universal rights.”
Fidel Castro relinquished power to his brother, Raúl, in 2011 after nearly half a century in charge of the island nation; Fidel died in 2016.
The U.S. supports freedom of expression and assembly across Cuba, and would strongly condemn any violence or targeting of peaceful protesters who are exercising their universal rights. https://t.co/FjI8bUHoQE
— Jake Sullivan (@JakeSullivan46) July 12, 2021
On Saturday, New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd published a column in which she gushed over the self-declared Democratic Socialist’s “ascension.”
“He has changed the whole debate in the nation’s capital. He is the guy trying to yank his party back to its working-class roots and steer President Biden in a bolder, more progressive direction,” Dowd wrote.
She continued: “Sanders passionately believes that the only way to undo the damage done by Donald Trump and Trumpism is by showing that government can deliver, that good policy can overcome dangerous conspiracy theories and lies.”