Although some Democrats have tried distancing themselves from a series of recent comments by Sen. Bernie Sanders where he praised certain aspects of late Cuban dictator Fidel Castro's authoritarian regime, including a "massive literacy program," House Democrats voted unanimously to block a resolution condemning the presidential candidate's remarks.
Introduced by Florida Republican Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, who is Cuban American, the House resolution called out Sanders by name for "disregarding the history of systemic human rights abuses, forced indoctrination, and authoritarian actions of the literacy and education policies of the Communist Castro dictatorship in Cuba."
Condemned communism and torture of innocent men and women
Diaz-Balart's resolution also asked House members to affirm that "the literacy and education policy of the tyrannical Castro dictatorship served to indoctrinate the Cuban people with Marxist-Communist ideology and anti-United States sentiment" and repudiate Castro's use of firing squads and imprisonment of political dissidents.
The House resolution also recognized that communism "has claimed at least 100,000,000 victims, and has led to financial ruin and brutal oppression in Asia, Europe, and the Western Hemisphere."
When he announced his plans to introduce the statement for a House vote, Diaz-Balart emphasized the Castro regime's record of backing anti-American dictatorships throughout the world.
"I remind the senator and the progressive movement that the Castro regime is a threat, not only by the way to the national security of the United States, but also to all of the democracies in this hemisphere. This regime has been on the list of state sponsors of terrorism for many years for its support of other terrorist states and organized terrorist groups," he told reporters at a news conference on Wednesday when announcing the resolution.
"That is, by the way, why I'm filing, filed a resolution that condemns the blatantly false, irresponsible, ignorant, highly ignorant and hurtful comments of the democratic socialist candidate for president, Mr. Sanders," Diaz-Balart added, according to The Hill.
Democrats unanimously block it
In a "60 Minutes" interview aired on Sunday, Sanders praised the Cuban regime, noting that Castro "formed a literacy brigade ... he went out and they helped people learn to read and write. You know what? I think teaching people to read and write is a good thing."
The comments drew bipartisan criticism, even prompting a DNC spokeswoman to have to clarify that the Democratic Party opposes the island's communist regime.
"I will let Bernie Sanders speak for his comments, but we are very clear in the Democratic Party that we speak out against brutal dictatorships like those of Castro and we support the people of Cuba, fleeing Cuba under that dictatorship,"
However, when a vote was taken Thursday on whether Diaz-Balart's resolution should be brought forth to the full House of Representatives for a vote, not a single Democratic House member supported it.
Two South Florida Democrats — Reps. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell and Donna Shalala — were among 16 House members who did not vote on the matter.