Democratic presidential nominee Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has come under fire in Florida for defending his past comments about former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, with several Democrats in the state issuing condemnations.
“We’re very opposed to the authoritarian nature of Cuba, but you know, it’s unfair to simply say everything is bad,” Sanders told Anderson Cooper during an interview on CBS’ “60 Minutes” on Sunday. “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?”
Democratic Florida Rep. Stephanie Murphy ripped the presidential hopeful’s comments as “ill-informed” and “insulting to thousands of Floridians. Castro was a murderous dictator who oppressed his own people. His ‘literacy program’ wasn’t altruistic; it was a cynical effort to spread his dangerous philosophy & consolidate power.”
Rep. Donna Shalala, D-Fla., whose district is in Miami, and has a large Cuban-born population, wrote on Twitter: “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. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, D-Fla., added that “As the first South American immigrant member of Congress who proudly represents thousands of Cuban Americans, I find Senator Bernie Sanders’ comments on Castro’s Cuba absolutely unacceptable.”
A spokesperson for the Sanders campaign told NBC Miami in a statement on Monday: "Sen. Sanders has clearly and consistently criticized Fidel Castro’s authoritarianism and condemned his human rights abuses, and he's simply echoing President Obama’s acknowledgment that Cuba made progress, especially in education.”
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