MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Senator Bernie Sanders is defending comments he made about Cuban leader Fidel Castro and the Cuban Revolution during an interview in the 1980s.
As South Florida remembers the Brothers to the rescue planes that were shot down over the Florida Straights 24 years ago, many in the Cuban community are furious over Sanders’ comments.READ MORE: Pivoting In Pandemic: Miami Maintenance Co. Credits FIU's Small Business Development Center For Helping Them Survive
Miriam De La Pena’s son was shot down. She says nothing good came of Castro’s rise to power.
“He has done so much wrong, he has killed so many innocent people. He has extended his tentacles outside the island of Cuba,” said De La Pena.
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When questioned about the Cuban Revolution on CBS News “60 Minutes” by Anderson Cooper, Sanders said that it wasn’t entirely bad.READ MORE: Earth Day: Recycling Right Is Key For The Future Of Our Environment
“We are very opposed to the authoritarian nature of Cuba. 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. Is that a bad thing? Even though Fidel Castro did it,” said Sanders.
“There are a lot of dissidents imprisoned in Cuba,” replied Cooper.
“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. Vladimir Putin, not a great friend of mine,” said Sanders.
In a clip from an older interview, Sanders also pointed to Cuban social welfare programs, introduced by the Castro regime, as reasons the Cuban people didn’t rise up and overthrow Castro after the revolution.
At a CNN town hall Monday night, Sanders asked about the uproar.
“But the truth is the truth and that’s what happened in the first years of the Castro regime,” he said.MORE NEWS: Initiatives Announced To Reduce Pollution In Miami-Dade County
His comments are already drawing push back from several South Florida leaders, including US Representative Donna Shalala and Senator Marco Rubio.