(CNSNews.com) - In a 1985 interview with CCTV in Burlington, Vermont, Bernie Sanders, then the mayor of Burlington, discussed his seven days in Nicaragua and his support for the socialist government there.
At the time, the Reagan administration was urging support for the Contra rebels that opposed the revolutionary Marxist regime of Daniel Ortega.
“One of the things that I think I learned on my trip, as a socialist -- the word socialism doesn't frighten me, and I think it's probably fair to say that the Nicaraguan government is primarily a socialist government,” Sanders said:
But what you learn down there is that socialism, or anti-capitalism, is much less prevalent than nationalism. Basically what they're saying is, we've been under the thumb of the Marines...we've been under the thumb of the United States for our entire history, and we're not going to be under the thumb of anybody anymore.
Nicaragua is our country -- we need to do the right things or the wrong things, we'll make our mistakes. But we will make them independently as an independent and free nation.
That is the theme of their revolution.
Sanders said in his view, "the Sandinista government has more support among the Nicaraguan people -- substantially more support-- than Ronald Reagan has among the American people," and he argued against possible U.S. military intervention to topple the Sandinista regime.
Sanders also made the case that the U.S. interventions in Latin American have been for the benefit of large corporations that exploited the people of Latin America.
As it turns out, 38 years after Sanders' trip, things have not worked out well in Nicaragua. Ortega -- defeated in 1990 -- returned as president in 2006 to this day.
The U.S. State Department urges Americans to "reconsider" travel to Nicaragua, "due to crime, civil unrest, limited healthcare availability and arbitrary enforcement of laws."
Throughout Nicaragua, 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. The government and its affiliated armed groups have been reported to:
--Arbitrarily detain protestors, with credible claims of torture and disappearances.
--Systematically target opposition figures, including clergy members.
--Prevent certain individuals from departing Nicaragua by air or land.
--Seize privately owned land.
--Arbitrarily search personal phones and computers for anti-government content.
--Arbitrarily detain certain individuals with unfounded charges of terrorism, money laundering, and organized crime.
These police and para-police groups often cover their faces, sometimes operate in groups numbering in the hundreds, and use unmarked vehicles.
Rallies and demonstrations are widespread and occur daily around the country. Government forces, uniformed police and para-police have attacked peaceful demonstrators leading to significant numbers of deaths and injuries. Looting, vandalism, and arson often occur during unrest.
Road blocks, including in Managua and other major cities, may appear and limit availability of food and fuel.
Government hospitals are understaffed and may deny treatment to suspected protestors. Some hospitals throughout the country may not be able to assist in emergencies. Ambulances have reportedly refused to respond or have been denied access to areas with individuals needing emergency care.
Violent crime, such as sexual assault and armed robbery, is common.
The U.S. Embassy in Managua is limited in the assistance it can provide....