Mainstream media have let Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders claim that his version of democratic socialism is modeled after a softer, gentler strain of European socialism (though even that claim is dubious, given that many northern European countries actually have freer or similarly free markets than the United States), newspaper archives dug up by journalist Maxim Lott show that Sanders praised corrupt socialist third-world regimes in Chile, Cuba and Nicaragua.
“In the 1980s, Sanders spoke of socialist Nicaraguan revolutionaries known as Sandinistas so often that one local paper called it a ‘favorite Sanders topic,’” reported Lott about Sanders’ time as mayor of Burlington, Vermont.
“The Burlington Free Press reported in 1981 on a speech Sanders gave that year, stating that Sanders “exhorted his audience ‘to take control of your own lives’ as the ‘struggling masses’ did in Chile, Cuba and Nicaragua.”
Sanders was apparently so enamored of the Sandinistan socialists that “the Nicaraguan government invited Sanders to an expenses-paid trip to attend the first formal inauguration of their president, Sandinista revolutionary Daniel Ortega. Sanders accepted, recounting in his 1997 autobiography that ‘I was – believe it or not – the highest-ranking American official present,’” Lott reported. “
Also present at Ortega’s inauguration were Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, Vice President of the Soviet Union Vasili Kuznetsov, and Yugoslavian President Veselin ?uranovi?, according to a U.S. Army report done for the Library of Congress in 1993. Sanders has separately praised Cuba, with recently unearthed footage showing Sanders recalling his excitement surrounding the Cuban revolution in the 1950s. ‘I remember, for some reason or another, being very excited when [former Cuban dictator] Fidel Castro made the revolution in Cuba,’ he said, while speaking at the University of Vermont in 1986. ‘I was a kid … and it just seemed right and appropriate that poor people were rising up against rather ugly rich people.’”
Sanders today has said his brand of “democratic socialism” isn’t the strain seen in Cuba and Venezuela, but as James Freeman reports, “Sanders signed a letter of support for [Nicolas] Maduro predecessor [socialist] Hugo Chavez,” and Sanders has refused to support the duly-elected replacement for socialist Maduro.