Bernie Sanders silent on Cuban pro-freedom uprisings after praising Fidel Castro's communist policies
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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 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.
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.