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Bernie Sanders criticized for former flirtations with communist regimes

UNITED STATES (OBSERVATORY NEWS) — Statements touting aspects of the Cuban revolution and past trips to communist countries return to haunt the campaign of Bernie Sanders, the current Democratic nomination favorite in the race for the White House.

The senator, self-proclaimed “socialist”, sparked since Sunday a cascade of condemnations in his own camp for having praised the massive literacy program launched by Fidel Castro after he came to power in 1959.

Joe Biden, number two of Barack Obama when he began a thaw with the Cuban regime in 2014, castigated an “admiration” for elements of the Castro dictatorship.

Billionaire Michael Bloomberg, for his part, recalled the “dark legacy” left by the Cuban dictator, and the ex-mayor of South Bend (Indiana) Pete Buttigieg condemned a candidate who “encourages people to look on the bright side of the regime Castro “.

Democratic Democrats in Florida, a Key State in the Presidential Election Hosting a Large Community of Cuban Refugees, Warned of Donald Trump’s Republican Victory in November If Sanders Were Party-Faced .

For the opponents of the senator from Vermont, this controversy is timely to try to slow down its winning momentum during the primary in South Carolina on Saturday.

Proof that his inauguration has become a real possibility, Donald Trump also now attacks him head-on, presenting him as a dangerous “communist”.

– “The truth” –

Engaged on the very young left, Bernie Sanders fought for civil rights as a student at the University of Chicago, then against the Vietnam War before entering politics as “independent”.

In the middle of the Cold War, then mayor of the small town of Burlington, he had made several trips to the Soviet Union, Cuba and Nicaragua. Statements and photos from the 1980s have resurfaced in recent days in the media and on social media.

In 1985, he greeted on the municipal television channel the literacy program and the free health system, even primitive, launched by the Sandinistas in Nicaragua, where he had just spent a week.

The following year, during a speech at the University of Vermont, he recalled his “enthusiasm” at the announcement of the Cuban revolution, during which “the poor rose up against the bad villains”.

And in 1988, after returning from a trip to the Soviet Union with a municipal delegation, he said he was “impressed” by the public transport system and the “very beautiful” stations in Moscow.

For the director of the Foundation for the Victims of Communism, Marion Smith, who posted Mr. Sanders’ 1988 statements on her Twitter account, these comments are “cruel outrage to the millions of victims of Communism around the world”.

But far from apologizing, the elected member of Vermont added Monday evening during a debate with the public on the CNN channel.

“I think teaching people to read and write is a good thing,” he said of the beginnings of the Castro regime. He said he had long criticized “authoritarian regimes around the world, including Cuba, Nicaragua, Saudi Arabia, China and Russia”.

Bernie Sanders also praised the efforts of Beijing, another “authoritarian country” that “lifted more people out of extreme poverty than anywhere else in the world”.

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