Sanders in 1985: Castro ‘Educated Their Kids, Gave Their Kids Health Care, Totally Transformed Society’

Zachary Leshin | October 19, 2015 | 3:10pm EDT
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Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) (AP Photo)

( – A video from 1985 shows Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) making favorable statements regarding Cuban dictator Fidel Castro when Sanders was mayor of Burlington, Vermont.

The statements took place during an Aug. 8, 1985 interview on the CCTV Center for Media & Democracy’s Channel 17/ Town Meeting Television, Chittenden County’s local government access station.

During the interview, Sanders discussed his recent trip to Nicaragua, marking the sixth anniversary of the Sandinista revolution, and drew parallels between Castro’s regime and the Nicaraguan Sandinista regime of Daniel Ortega.

“In 1961, [America] invaded Cuba, and everybody was totally convinced that Castro was the worst guy in the world,” said Sanders.

“All the Cuban people were going to rise up in rebellion against Fidel Castro. They forgot that he educated their kids, gave their kids health care, totally transformed society,” he said.

“You know, not to say Fidel Castro and Cuba are perfect - they are certainly not - but just because Ronald Reagan dislikes these people does not mean to say the people in these nations feel the same,” continued Sanders.

During the interview, Sanders also discussed some of the officials he met with in Nicaragua.

In reference to Nicaragua’s Foreign Minister Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, Sanders said, “I was impressed by Father d'Escoto.”

“If this guy is the foreign minister of a 'terrorist nation,' then they should get another foreign minister, because he is a very gentle, very loving man,” said Sanders.

He referred to Ortega as “an impressive guy.”

Sanders was also strongly critical of then-President Ronald Reagan.

“The Sandinista government, in my view, has more support among the Nicaraguan people, substantially more support, than Ronald Reagan has among the American people,” said Sanders.

“If President Reagan thinks that any time a government comes along, which in its wisdom, rightly or wrongly, is doing the best for its people, he has the right to overthrow that government, you're going to be at war not only with all of Latin America, but with the entire Third World,” he said.

Ortega currently serves as president of Nicaragua. Castro stepped down as president of Cuba in 2008 and transferred power to his brother Raúl.

Sanders is currently running to be the Democratic nominee for president of the United States.

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