The Democratic National Committee is distancing itself from leading presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders' (VT) comments about how Fidel Castro did some things right when he came into power. Spokesperson Xochitl Hinojosa told Fox News on Tuesday the party does not endorse Castro's regime.
Sanders has praised Castro's regime for helping improve the country's literacy rate, but did say he did not approve of the government's long history of jailing, torturing, and killing dissidents.
"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 at a recent CNN town hall.
Sanders has repeatedly stood by his comments, despite criticisms from Republicans and Democrats.
"We are very clear in the Democratic Party that we speak out against brutal dictatorships like those of Castro and we support the people of Cuba, fleeing Cuba under that dictatorship. We have been very clear as a party when it comes to that," Hinojosa said. "I encourage all of these candidates, whether it be Bernie Sanders or anyone on that debate stage tonight, go to Florida and talk to people in Florida, listen to their stories and listen to what they went through. I think any candidate would benefit from that and that is what is part of this primary. You go and appeal to a broad coalition of people and I think that will be relayed on Super Tuesday."
Sanders defended his comments during Tuesday's night debate in South Carolina, pointing to how former President Barack Obama made similar remarks.
"I said this to President Castro in Cuba. Look you've made great progress in educating young people...Medical care. The life expectancy of Cubans is equivalent to the United States despite it being a very poor country because they have access to health care." – President Obama pic.twitter.com/pKDzvo3YpO— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) February 26, 2020