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Bernie Sanders Doubles Down on His Praise for Some of Fidel Castro's Policies

AP Photo/Chris Carlson

Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) stood by the comments he made in a "60 Minutes" interview that aired on Sunday about Fidel Castro's regime in Cuba during his CNN town hall on Monday.


Sanders told Anderson Cooper that while he's "opposed" to Castro's authoritarianism, it's "unfair to simply say everything is bad" because he helped improve the country's literacy rates after coming into power.

Sanders' comment has since been denounced by both Republicans and Democrats, especially in Florida where many Cuban refugees and their descendants live.

CNN anchor Chris Cuomo asked Sanders for his response to those criticizing his remarks about a regime that regularly imprisoned and killed dissentients.    

"When Castro first came to power...he initiated a major literacy program. There was a lot of folks in Cuba at that point who were illiterate and he formed a literacy brigade that went out and they helped people learn to read and write. You know what? I think teaching people to read and write is a good thing," Sanders said. 

"I have been extremely consistent and critical of all authoritarian regimes all over the world including Cuba, including Nicaragua, including Saudi Arabia, including China, including Russia," he continued. "I happen to believe in democracy, not authoritarianism. China is another example. China is an authoritarian country becoming more and more authoritarian. But can anyone deny? I mean the facts are clear: They have taken more people out of extreme poverty than any country in history...So that is the fact. End of discussion."


Cuomo followed up by asking about the Democrats who said you can't say positive things about Castro's government because of the overwhelming amount of atrocities they committed to their own people.

"Truth is truth. All right? If you want to disagree with me, if somebody wants to say that — and by the way all of the Congresspeople that you mentioned just so happen to be supporting other candidates...but you know, the truth is the truth. And that is what happened on the first years of the Castro regime," Sanders said.

While some Democrats have endorsed other candidates for president, others like Reps. Donna Shalala and Debbie Mucarsel-Powell have yet to endorse anyone.

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