Bernie Sanders's Cuba: Close But No Cigar

February 28, 2020

Mike Gonzalez doesn't like to write about his family. "I like to write about ideas," says the Heritage Foundation's senior fellow. But when the 2020 race started turning into a socialism love-fest, he decided it was time to speak up. His family came from Cuba -- and not the one Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) describes.

"We're very opposed to the authoritarian nature of Cuba," the senator said at a recent "60 Minutes" interview. "But you know, it's unfair to simply say everything is bad. You know? When Fidel Castro came into office, you know what he did? He had a massive literacy program." For Sanders, it was par for the radical's course. "Senator Sanders has a very long and consistent and sustained habit of embracing [and] singing the praises of the Castro regime," Mike told Sarah Perry on "Washington Watch." "And the Castro regime is just awful." He ought to know. His family lived it.

Cuba was, he has written, "a fairly advanced country before 1959, which is why Europeans -- like five of my eight great-grandparents -- emigrated there." But all of this, he explains, "has been crushed by 60 years of communism. No European or American in his right mind would immigrate to Cuba today." Castro destroyed the culture. "He destroyed the country of my parents." And now, Mike says, "Cuba is a basket case." Why? "Because socialism has a perfect record of failure." Africa, Germany, China, Korea, the Caribbean -- they've all tried it. And the result wasn't the rosy picture Bernie Sanders paints.

Mike's grandparents lost everything. His parents, he says, lived in constant fear after Castro's revolution, worried they'd be arrested for refusing to embrace communism. "All they wanted was to have freedom of speech and be able to offer my sister and me a religious education without fear of retribution. As an altar boy in the 1960s, I can tell you that practicing Catholicism took guts. I was eight or nine."

"Did my father deserve to die from diabetes at 44 because he could not get the diet or medication he needed? Had he not walked out of the university and refused to teach law in 1961, he might still be alive. When he died in hospital, the only piece of equipment that could have saved his life was being used on a Russian diplomat; our father did not have access to it.

And all this human suffering, all these broken eggs, for what kind of omelet? For all the vaunted gains in literacy, Cubans today cannot read what they want, only what the party says."

And yet, not only does Sanders praise the communist dictatorship of Cuba, "he's praised the communist dictatorship of the Soviet Union and many other countries." The fact that he could be the presumptive Democratic nominee says a lot about where we are as a country and how short our memory is on the murderous regimes Sanders praises. But, as Mike points out, for our young people, it's not that they've forgotten -- it's that they've never been taught.

"You and I know very well that our children, the last generation, has been handed over to Marxist professors. The [Berlin] Wall came down 30 years ago, and they have learned nothing about the evils of communism. They have learned that America is supposedly hateful, and that we're a structurally racist country, and all that -- but nothing bad, really, about communism. Look, I think that we need to get across to the young is that a socialist system is not your mother doing laundry for you or giving you lunch? It's going to take away your individuality and your freedom to do things. It's going to tell you that you cannot have equality of opportunity. Things that Americans are not going to like."