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‘Absolutely Unacceptable’: Florida Swing-District Dem Slams Sanders for Defense of Castro

Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (Anna Moneymaker/Reuters)

Representative Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (D., Fla.) called comments made by Senator Bernie Sanders (I., Vt.) about Cuban dictator Fidel Castro in an 60 Minutes interview “absolutely unacceptable.”

“The Castro regime murdered and jailed dissidents, and caused unspeakable harm to too many South Florida families,” Mucarsel-Powell tweeted Monday. To this day, it remains an authoritarian regime that oppresses its people, subverts the free press, and stifles a free society.”

Sanders spoke positively of Castro’s regime under questioning from host Anderson Cooper in an interview that aired Sunday, but also did not condone Cuba’s jailing of political prisoners.

“We’re very opposed to the authoritarian nature of Cuba but you know, it’s unfair to simply say everything is bad. You know?” Sanders said. “When Fidel Castro came into office, you know what he did? He had a massive literacy program. Is that a bad thing? Even though Fidel Castro did it?”

Mucarsel-Powell, a first-term Democrat, was born in Ecuador and immigrated to the United States when she was 14. She unseated Republican Carlos Curbelo in Florida’s 26 Congressional district by 4,000 votes after a tight race. Her district is listed as “likely Democratic” in her upcoming reelection contest by the Cook Political Report.

The Congresswoman joins fellow Democrat Donna Shalala, who runs the neighboring 27th district, in criticizing Sanders. “I’m hoping that in the future, Senator Sanders will take time to speak to some of my constituents before he decides to sing the praises of a murderous tyrant like Fidel Castro,” Shalala said.

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