Tuesday, as part of his second participation in the Democratic presidential election, Bernie Sanders spoke with Jorge Ramos, Univision. After questioning Sanders on his national platform, Ramos used the last few minutes to learn about Venezuela. "Do you consider Juan Guaidó as the legitimate president of Venezuela?" He asked. This is a relevant question, not only because the disaster in Venezuela seems to be getting worse by the day and will probably become a complex diplomatic challenge in the months to come for the United States and the rest of the Americas, but also because the American president Sanders hopes to overthrow be more than happy to make elections next year a referendum on socialism.
Just hours before Sanders announced his decision to join an already saturated Democratic group, Donald Trump spoke in Miami to pronounce a passionate condemnation of Nicolás Maduro's regime, which quickly became a denunciation of socialism in general. and a policy. Convenient warning for the United States. "Socialism has ravaged so much this great country [Venezuela] Even the largest oil reserves in the world are not enough for the lights to stay on. This will never happen to us, "said Trump, pursuing a theme he had touched on in his State of the Union address.
In his response to Ramos' question, Sanders refused to support Guaidó and proceeded cautiously: "I think there are serious questions about the recent elections," he said, citing the simulated tragic process of last year in which Maduro stole a second term. "I think the United States must work with the international community to ensure that free and fair elections take place in Venezuela. "Nicolás Maduro is he a dictator?" He asked. "Should he go?" Sanders refused to present Maduro as an authoritarian leader (despite much evidence to the contrary) and decided to describe Venezuelan acts as "very abusive".
the WE. President Sanders hopes to overthrow would be more than happy to have the election of a referendum on the next year on socialism.
This is not the first time Sanders has chosen to march on despotic regimes left in Latin America. In the 80s, Sanders went to Nicaragua. Upon his return, he repeatedly defended the Sandinistas and their leader, Daniel Ortega. (Michael Moynihan gives an excellent overview of Sanders and Nicaragua here.) Sanders' enthusiasm for Ortega and the Castro regime in Cuba came back to haunt him during the 2016 presidential campaign. a first debate against Hillary Clinton organized by Univision and the Washington Post in Miami, a video had been filmed at Sanders in 1985 while he was mayor of Burlington, Vermont, in which he was talking about Nicaragua and was describing with enthusiasm for how Fidel Castro "totally transformed" Cuban society by providing education and health care. Following the follow-up of Univision's anchor, Maria Elena Salinas, Sanders recognized Cuba as an "authoritarian and undemocratic country", before again congratulating the Castro regime for its "advances in medical care. health "(a dubious claim at best).
A few days after the debate, Sanders appeared on CNN. When Anderson Cooper discussed the issue of trade in Miami, asking Sanders if the Castro revolution had really benefited the Cuban people, Sanders tried to dismiss the issue, focusing on the (albeit immoral and tragic) history of American intervention in the region. When Cooper tried to get a direct answer, Sanders immediately accused him of "throwing a red one" and repeated his routine of condemnation and praise of the Castro government.
I have personally witnessed the discomfort and impatience of Sanders when asked about the failure of the socialist experience in Latin America when I l & # 39; I interviewed in Los Angeles towards the end of the 2016 primary season. I asked Sanders to explain if the socialist model had brought Venezuela to the brink of collapse. Exasperated, Sanders rejected my questions and refused to give an opinion. "I'm running for president of the United States," he said, as if the post had prevented him from giving a clear assessment of the Venezuelan crisis.
Of course, it is quite possible that the Democratic electorate does not care about Sanders' history of ambivalence towards repressive socialist regimes in Latin America. Capitalism has become increasingly unpopular among young Democratic voters, the majority of whom now express a positive view of socialism. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, arguably the most dynamic political figure in the country and a democratic socialist, has worked on Sanders' 2016 campaign and sees the Vermont senator as an inspiration and mentor.
Nevertheless, Democrats should not reject Trump's political instinct so quickly. The Democratic primary is not the general election. Millennial and more progressive voters could see the attractiveness of Sanders socialism at a time of disparity and social injustice, but this label could become a handicap for older and more conservative voters in November 2020.
If he wins the nomination, the old (and older) Sanders videos praising unsuccessful socialist experiments and evoking the latest cruelties in Latin America will surely resurface, while Trump warns of a long-awaited takeover of Socialists in the USA. d & # 39; America. This may be alarmist, but Democrats deny its effectiveness at their peril.