(CNSNews.com) -- In an interview as mayor of Burlington, Vermont in 1985, Bernie Sanders -- now a U.S. senator -- praised Nicaragua’s Marxist President Daniel Ortega and offered him advice on improving communications with “the average American.”
A video from the Center for Media Democracy (CCTV) shows Sanders, who had just returned from a trip to Nicaragua, praising Ortega as “an impressive guy” and suggesting ways for the Nicaraguan government to appeal to the American people. At the time, former U.S. President Ronald Reagan supported the Contras who sought to overthrow Ortega’s regime.
In the interview, a reporter asked Sanders, who has described himself as a socialist, if he had any suggestions for Nicaragua’s leaders on “how they could organize their PR a little bit more effectively.”
In response, Sanders said he did, and that Nicaragua was “getting killed in the American media.” He also suggested that Reagan was a liar.
“The point that I tried to make to many of the people that I spoke to is they’re getting killed in the American media,” Sanders said. “They just cannot compete. Reagan and his people are so sophisticated. They own the airwaves, of course – Reagan, the media. Every time Reagan gives them a photo opportunity, thousands – ‘Thank you, Mr. President! Thank you very much for telling us another lie.’”
“You know, the media, of course, is not allowed to ask sharp questions of the president,” Sanders continued. “That is not allowed. And, you know, my point to Ortega is they are not getting their message of what they are trying to do out to the American people, and there’s, there’s just no question about that.”
Sanders went on to compare the United States, with its “trained and well-paid people who are professional manipulators of the media” to Nicaragua’s lack of “sophistication” when it came to the press.
“You know, Ortega is the president of a country of three million people,” Sanders said. “There’s probably one television station. They have no sophistication. They have no knowledge as to when you call – you know, they call press conferences that the media can’t even use here in the United States because it’s the wrong time.”
Sanders concluded by asserting that Nicaraguans needed to “greatly improve” communications with Americans.
“You know, there’s a whole science around this which they’re not aware of,” Sanders said. “They have contacts now with – they’ve hired a public relations firm in the United States, and they’re trying to improve it, but the main point is, I think, they have got to greatly improve their ability to communicate with the average American, and that’s what I said.”
Ortega’s regime has grown increasingly repressive since 2007, and it is considered dictatorial by many outside observers. Freedom House, an organization that analyzes the extent to which a country is free and democratic, noted that Ortega “has consolidated all branches of government under his party’s control, limited fundamental freedoms, and allowed unchecked corruption to pervade the government.”
Additionally, a U.S. travel advisory warns Americans to “reconsider travel to Nicaragua due to crime, civil unrest, limited healthcare availability, and arbitrary enforcement of laws,” pointing out that “armed and violent uniformed police or civilians in plain clothes acting as police (“para-police”) are targeting anyone considered to be in opposition to the rule of President Ortega.”
Sanders, an Independent, caucuses with the Democrats in the U.S. Senate.