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Fla Dem Party issues statement against dictatorships after Castro comments, without mentioning Sanders’ name

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The Florida Democratic Party went on record to emphasize its condemnation of dictatorships following comments made by Sen. Bernie Sanders.

An official statement was released Monday in an apparent attempt to clarify that the state’s Democrat Party did not agree with or endorse the Vermont senator and 2020 presidential candidate’s praise of the late Cuban dictator Fidel Castro.

(Image: MSNBC screenshot)

Sanders sparked outrage after praising the legacy of the Cuban leader during an interview Sunday on “60 Minutes” in which he suggested the people of Cuba did not rise up against Castro’s dictatorship because “he educated their kids, gave them health care, totally transformed the society.”

“We’re very opposed to the authoritarian nature of Cuba but you know, it’s unfair to simply say everything is bad,” Sanders told anchor Anderson Cooper. “When Fidel Castro came into office, you know what he did? He had a massive literacy program. Is that a bad thing? Even though Fidel Castro did it?”

The effects of Sanders’ remarks were acutely felt in the critical swing state of Florida where a large Cuban population resides. The senator doubled down on his praise of Castro’s socialist rule in Cuba during a CNN town hall on Monday.

While it should already be seen as embarrassing for a political party to have to go on the record to state its position on opposing dictatorships, the Democrats in Florida did not even call Sanders out directly.

“Florida Democrats condemn dictators who toppled democracies across the globe and stand in solidarity with the thousands of people who have fled violent dictatorships in Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua,” Florida Democratic Party chairwoman Terrie Rizzo said in a statement released Monday.

“Candidates need to understand our immigrant communities’ shared stories, as well as provide solutions to issues that matter to all Floridians including access to affordable health care and rejecting a Trump economy that works only for the very rich,” Rizzo added, without ever directly addressing Sanders.

The Miami-Dade Democrats also issued a statement that simultaneously condemned Castro while finding a way to bash President Donald Trump. The party’s apparent presidential front-runner, and his praise of Castro, were never even mentioned.

“Like Donald Trump, the Castro regime ignores the rule of law. Like Donald Trump, the Castro regime abuses their power for personal and political gain. And like Donald Trump, the Castro regime uses its office to enrich itself and its family,” Steve Simeonidis, chair of the Miami-Dade Democratic Party, said in a statement.

Other Democrats spoke out against Sanders’ remarks, including Florida Rep. Stephanie Murphy who said the comments were “insulting” to people in her state.

Sanders’ comments “are ill-informed & insulting to thousands of Floridians,” Murphy, who endorsed Mike Bloomberg in the Democratic presidential race, tweeted on Monday.

“Castro was a murderous dictator who oppressed his own people. His ‘literacy program’ wasn’t altruistic; it was a cynical effort to spread his dangerous philosophy & consolidate power,” she added.

On the other side of the political aisle, Florida Republican candidate for Congress Maria Elvira Salazar offered her condemnation of Sanders’ comments and took the Dem presidential candidate head-on.

“Your words are very dangerous,” Salazar charged against Sanders. In a powerful video posted to Twitter, she lambasted the Dem socialist for praising the totalitarian dictator that she said drove her parents, and thousands of others, to flee Cuba.

Frieda Powers

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