Skip to content
Advertisements

Bernie Sanders Makes ‘No Apologies’ for Opposing Reagan-Backed Death Squads

Jake Johnson, Common Dreams

In response to what one observer described as “anti-American baiting” by a New York Times reporter over the weekend, Sen. Bernie Sanders refused to shy away from his record of opposition to Reagan-backed death squads and coup plotters in Nicaragua throughout the 1980s.

During an interview published in the print edition of the Times on Sunday, journalist Sydney Ember repeatedly asked Sanders about supposed anti-American chants that rang out during a rally he attended in Managua in 1985, when the Reagan administration was funneling arms and money to the right-wing Contras in support of their brutal and deadly effort to topple the Sandinista government of Nicaragua.

“I strongly oppose U.S. policy, which overthrows governments, especially democratically elected governments, around the world.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders

“The United States at that time—I don’t know how much you know about this—was actively supporting the Contras to overthrow the government,” Sanders told Ember, who co-authored a Times story last week detailing Sanders’s foreign policy positions during his tenure as mayor of Burlington, Vermont.

“Of course there was anti-American sentiment there,” Sanders said. “This was a war being funded by the United States against the people of Nicaragua. People were being killed in that war.”

When Ember continued the same line of questioning, asking Sanders whether he “would have stayed at the rally” had he heard the “anti-American” chants from the crowd, Sanders responded, “I think Sydney, with all due respect, you don’t understand a word that I’m saying.”

“I strongly oppose U.S. policy, which overthrows governments, especially democratically elected governments, around the world,” said Sanders. “So this issue is not so much Nicaragua or the government of Nicaragua. The issue was, should the United States continue a policy of overthrowing governments in Latin America and Central America? I believed then that it was wrong, and I believe today it is wrong. That’s why I do not believe the United States should overthrow the government of Venezuela.”

“Let me just say this: I plead guilty to, throughout my adult life, doing everything that I can to prevent war and destruction,” Sanders said. “That is my view, and I make no apologies for it.”

(Read the exchange between Sanders and Ember below.)

While some characterized Sanders’s sharp responses as “rude” and unbecoming of a presidential candidate, others argued the Vermont senator’s replies were perfectly appropriate given the severity of the issue under discussion and the quality of the questions.

“Reagan backed a vicious anti-Sandinista war that would leave ~60,000 dead. The CIA helped contras lay underwater mines in Nicaraguan ports. But Sanders is the rude one for objecting to ‘anti-American’ baiting?” tweeted Sarah Lazare, web editor for In These Times. “It is not right-wing or ‘like Trump’ to object to NYT’s pro-war bias.”

Author and climate activist Naomi Klein tweeted that while she thought Sanders “should have been more patient and polite,” his angry responses were understandable.

“I certainly get why he had smoke coming out of his ears,” Klein wrote. “My blood pressure soared just reading it.”

 Read part of exchange from the Times:

Q. In the top of our story, we talk about the rally you attended in Managua and a wire report at the time said that there were anti-American chants from the crowd.

The United States at that time—I don’t know how much you know about this—was actively supporting the Contras to overthrow the government. So that there’s anti-American sentiment? I remember that, I remember that event very clearly. 

You do recall hearing those chants? I think the wire report has them saying, “Here, there, everywhere, the Yankee will die.”

They were fighting against American——Huh huh——yes, what is your point?

I wanted to——

Are you shocked to learn that there was anti-American sentiment?

My point was I wanted to know if you had heard that.

I don’t remember, no. Of course there was anti-American sentiment there. This was a war being funded by the United States against the people of Nicaragua. People were being killed in that war. 

Do you think if you had heard that directly, you would have stayed at the rally?

I think Sydney, with all due respect, you don’t understand a word that I’m saying.

Do you believe you had an accurate view of President Ortega at the time? I’m wondering if you’re——

This was not about Ortega. Do you understand? I don’t know if you do or not. Do you know that the United States overthrew the government of Chile way back? Do you happen to know that? Do you? I’m asking you a simple question.

What point do you want to make?

My point is that fascism developed in Chile as a result of that. The United States overthrew the government of Guatemala, a democratically elected government, overthrew the government of Brazil. I strongly oppose U.S. policy, which overthrows governments, especially democratically elected governments, around the world. So this issue is not so much Nicaragua or the government of Nicaragua. 

The issue was, should the United States continue a policy of overthrowing governments in Latin America and Central America? I believed then that it was wrong, and I believe today it is wrong. That’s why I do not believe the United States should overthrow the government of Venezuela.


This article originally appeared on Common Dreams. It is shared under a creative commons license.

The title of the article was shortened.


Support Us
Red Revolution has a number of costs involved not only with the running of the site but also future plans for expansion of our reach. These include payments for domains, feature packages, advertising, photo and content libraries and more.

If you’ve liked what you’ve read on Red Revolution, please consider a kind donation or taking a look at our carefully chosen related products on many articles.

You can donate via our Support Us page via PayPal or Bitcoin. All donations are kept private and secure.

Your generosity is appreciated.


Outsider in the White House

By Bernie Sanders

The political autobiography of the insurgent presidential candidate

Bernie Sanders’s campaign for the presidency of the United States has galvanized people all over the country, putting economic, racial, and social justice into the spotlight, and raising hopes that Americans can take their country back from the billionaires and change the course of history.

In this book, Sanders tells the story of a passionate and principled political life. He describes how, after cutting his teeth in the Civil Rights movement, he helped build a grassroots political movement in Vermont, making it possible for him to become the first independent elected to the US House of Representatives in forty years. The story continues into the US Senate and through the dramatic launch of his presidential campaign.


Advertisements

Red Revolution View All

News, articles & stories from the worlds of politics & history, with a dose of retro culture.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.