Since Bernie Sanders decided to look at the bright side of the Cuban revolution a few Cuban Americans have come forward to offer their personal perspectives as people who actually lived under Castro’s regime. Shockingly, their memories of Cuban communism are not, primarily, positive tales of expanded literacy. Miami Herald columnist Fabiola Santiago described her family’s experience after Castro took over:
The girl is 8 and in the third grade, the daughter of a beloved and respected teacher forced to resign over her refusal to teach Communist dogma to her students. (More on the mother later.)
Her father, a merchant of flour goods, sees his small, one-man business operation confiscated, and when he declines to continue to operate it as an employee of the state, he is sent to work in the agriculture fields as punishment…
Like the thousands before them and thousands along with them, they’re branded “gusanos,” worms — and this creates a lot of tension for the children in your idyllic “literacy system.”…
When she’s asked to write a glowing essay on Fidel Castro, she writes biography, complete, thorough, but no glowing appraisal because at 10, she knows more than Bernie Sanders at 78.
Ouch! Yesterday the Daily Signal posted a piece in which a couple of Cuban expats describe some of the downsides of living in post-revolutionary Cuba.
“For the sake of argument, let’s say both the [Cuban] health care system and education system are perfect, which they are not. There have been thousands of political executions, tens of thousands of political prisoners, and 3 million Cuban exiles,” said Arcos, 58, today associate director of the Cuban Research Institute at Florida International University.
“So, the question to ask when we are told to consider the good things is: What is the price for the good?” Arcos told The Daily Signal.
To be fair, looking at the prices of socialist dogma has never been Sanders’ strong point, either abroad or when considering his own policy proposals.
Repression in Cuba is on the rise, said Janisset Rivero, 50, a human rights activist who lived in Cuba until age 14. Her family was wrongly accused of engaging in seditious speech against the Cuban government because they received a letter from family abroad.
“Health care and education are not as good as the propaganda claims,” Rivero said. “It’s indoctrination more than education. The Cuban system doesn’t tolerate critical thinking.”…
“Some people simply support socialism and communism with a big state that can take control of people’s lives,” Rivero said. “Some supporters know exactly what is going on in Cuba and believe it would be OK here because they believe they know best.”
NBC News also highlights some reactions from Cuba experts:
Lillian Guerra, a professor of Cuban history at the University of Florida, says Sanders’ comments about why Cubans did not join the U.S. in overthrowing Castro are misleading.
“Citizens willingly supported the revolution and a lot of the radical changes, but they were almost immediately left with no other choice than to obey,” Guerra said, noting that strikes, protests and nongovernmental organizations were outlawed in the early 1960s.
“That’s the reality of an authoritarian state that allows for no civil society,” Guerra said.
I suspect there’s a lot more people out there willing to contradict Sanders’ sunny spin on Castro. The question is whether the media will pursue this story decide to quickly drop it. Some have compared this to Trump’s “good people on both sides” comment about the racist march in Charlottesville. Those comments have been brought up approximate 1 billion times in the media since Trump said them. It was a dumb thing for Trump to say, not because he was praising white supremacists (he’d already denounced them in the same statement) but because there was really nothing praise-worthy about the racist jack-holes who showed up for Unite the Right. Let’s see if Bernie’s praise of Castro’s far more consequential and deadly regime gets similar treatment or is quickly forgotten by the media.
Update: Hadn’t seen this when I wrote that bit about Charlottesville, but Whoopi Goldberg made this point on the View today. She seems pretty outraged that Sanders is defending the record of a dictatorship and says “This is as bad as you-know-who saying there were good people on both sides. It’s the same thing.” Naturally, Joy Behar has to attempt to defend Sanders but Whoopi isn’t buying it.