Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton lambasted Sen. Bernie Sanders over his past kind words the government of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, which he praised as having "educated their kids, gave their kids health care, totally transformed society."
"In 1961, [America] invaded Cuba, and everybody was totally convinced that Castro was the worst guy in the world," Sanders said at the time. "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."
Clinton hit him specifically for talking highly about the "revolution of values," saying that values in such dictatorships (past and present) as Cuba, Nicaragua and elsewhere are not the values "I ever want to see anywhere." Sanders allegedly made the comments in the same interview, according to Clinton, which the Vermont senator pushed back against.
"What that was about was saying that the United States was wrong to try to invade Cuba. That the United States was wrong trying to support people to overthrow the Nicaraguan government, that the United States was wrong to try to overthrow in 1954 the democratically elected government of Guatemala," Sanders explained. "Throughout the history of our relationship with Latin America we've operated under the so-called Monroe Doctrine, and that said the United States had the right do anything that they wanted do in Latin America."
"I think the United States should be working with governments around the world, and not get involved in regime change. and all of these actions, by the way, in Latin America, brought forth a lot of very strong Anti-american sentiments," Sanders said. "That's what that was about."
When pressed about his past support for Castro, Sanders dodged, saying that the "key issue" was the U.S. overthrowing small countries in Latin America, on which the campaign doubled down in an email after the debate. He also praised advances currently taking place in the Cuban dictatorship, specifically in healthcare and education.
"I think in that same interview, he praised what he called the revolution of values in Cuba and talked about how people were working for the common good — not for themselves. I just couldn't disagree more," she added. "You know, if the values are that you oppress people, you disappear people, you imprison people, even kill people for expressing their opinions, for expressing freedom of speech, that is not the kind of revolution of values that I ever want to see anywhere."
Responding to Clinton, Sanders maintained that issue at hand was that the U.S. should not involve itself in regime change, before moving on to discuss the debt issue in Puerto Rico.