Ron DeSantis condemns Bernie Sanders’ attempt to ‘whitewash the brutality’ in Fidel Castro dictatorship
Gov. Ron DeSantis

Ron DeSantis
Gov. joins the condemnation chorus.

When it comes to Sen. Bernie Sanders and his affinity for Cuban governmental achievements, Gov. Ron DeSantis is not ‘feeling the Bern.’

On Monday, after an event at Florida A&M University, the Republican Governor began a media availability with an unsolicited condemnation of Sanders’ comments over the years, most recently on “60 Minutes” on Sunday.

“We’re very opposed to the authoritarian nature of Cuba, but you know, it’s unfair to say everything is bad,” said Sanders.

“When Fidel Castro came in office, he had a massive literacy program. Is that a bad thing even though Fidel Castro did it?”

Sanders added that he “condemned” the imprisonment of dissidents. But that qualifier certainly was bait for DeSantis, a key ally of President Donald Trump.

“I just wanted to say in relation to some of the things that have been said by Sen. Sanders that any attempts to whitewash the brutality of the Castro dictatorship is totally unacceptable,” DeSantis said.

“It flies directly in the face of the values of the people throughout the state. This is a Senator who has spoke positively throughout his whole life of the dictatorship there,” DeSantis added.

“He’s spoke positively about Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro,” the Governor added, referring to the past and present Venezuelan chief executives.

“He’s been a longtime supporter of the Sandinista regime in Nicaragua. And that’s just unacceptable,” DeSantis continued.

“And so I think we just need to speak with a clear voice on that … it’s bad enough that that was happening throughout his life, but now maybe you’re older. But that’s just who he is. It doesn’t sit well with me and it doesn’t sit well with a lot of people through the state of Florida,” he added.

Both Sanders and Trump, according to reports first promulgated by the aggressively centrist Washington Post, were told by U.S. intelligence that Russia was working to help their respective campaigns.

While subsequent reporting has said those concerns were “overstated,” FP asked the Governor about the continued assertions of Russian play in American campaigns.

“Then people started to say that actually there wasn’t evidence,” DeSantis said.

“Look, I don’t know what’s going on. We’ve obviously done a lot on election security here, we’re going to continue to do it. But there’s been a lot that’s gone on to try to do things good. But I also think that, you know, how this was handled by the last few years, particularly by the press, a lot of rumors put out, a lot of anonymous sources.”

“It’s basically intended to create a divisive narrative,” the Governor continued. “I’d prefer to focus on facts rather than what some third-hand source may have said.”

When we reminded the Governor that then-candidate Trump literally called for Russia to help expose former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton‘s emails at a rally in 2016, the line of inquiry closed.

“We’re not going to relitigate 2016, come on,” DeSantis said.

Soon after DeSantis issued his denunciation of the Sanders comments, the Florida GOP weighed in via Twitter.

Some Democrats are also condemning his comments including a coalition of South Florida elected officials who worry the comments will have down ballot consequences. Former U.S. Congresswoman Gwen Graham condemned Sanders’ comments on Facebook.

“I said (what now seems a lifetime ago) that Senator Sanders could never win Florida. The socialism label is political suicide,” she wrote. “Last nights’ 60 Minutes debacle has now made him poisonous in Florida.”

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at [email protected]


3 comments

  • TED

    February 24, 2020 at 1:21 pm

    The Republican dogs, particularly in Florida, keep harping on Castro and Communism simply to keep the Cuban vote in south Florida. Castro has been out of the picture for the past 12 years – and there are plenty of dictators that brutally punish dissidents that the Republican dogs L-O-V-E, e.g., Saudi Arabia – and even in apartheid countries like Israel. Like the rest of ’em, DeSantis is a purely partisan blowhard.

  • Pedro

    February 24, 2020 at 1:52 pm

    There is no way a rational person should be equating Bernie’s Socialism to a communist dictatorship! But a lot of us do see authoritarian leanings when our non-popular vote winning president separates immigrant children from parents and locks them up. I don’t remember any outcry from this Governor when his party’s leader insist he can do what he wants, when he wants.

  • Richard Burnham

    February 25, 2020 at 9:52 pm

    How does such a dope as Florida governor get elected? You mean it’s improper to point out that even after decades of US trade embargoes against Cuba its infant mortality rate is 1/3 lower than US? It’s improper to point out Cuban male life expectancy is higher than that of males in US? It’s improper to note that prescription drugs in Cuba cost like less than 1/10th what they do in US? So Bernie is somehow wrong for noting that there are things Cuba does far better than US? Jesus, how do Florida voters come up with these dopes.

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