During the Democratic debate hosted by Univision on Wednesday night, the debate moderators pulled out a clip from a 1985 interview with Bernie Sanders where he appeared to praise Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. Sanders explained that he had been merely making the point that the US government should not have tried to overthrow Castro, and agreed that Cuba is an “authoritarian undemocratic country”.
Then, Hillary Clinton decided to use part of her response to the moderators’ next question to press this attack on Sanders. She said:
I think in that same interview, he praised what he called the revolution of values in Cuba and talked about how people were working for the common good, not for themselves.
I just couldn’t disagree more. You know, if the values are that you oppress people, you disappear people, you imprison people or even kill people for expressing their opinions, for expressing freedom of speech, that is not the kind of revolution of values that I ever want to see anywhere.
When I heard this, it seemed pretty damning, but then it occurred to me to do some fact-checking. I found the video of the full interview on Buzzfeed’s site (they were apparently the ones to originally dig it up), and I watched the whole thing. Sanders came across as extremely reasonable, and the “revolution of values” line was nowhere to be found, as far as I could tell.
But knowing it was possible I’d just gotten distracted for the relevant 10 seconds of the video, I gave a company called CastingWords about $70 to make a complete transcript of the interview. I’ve decided to make the transcript–which disproves Clinton’s claim–freely available below. (Note to my less tech-savvy readers: you can use CTRL+F, or command+F on a Mac, to quickly search the transcript.)
Clinton may have meant to refer to an article in the Daily Beast that was posted a couple weeks ago, which appears to say that in 1989, Sanders told The Burlington Free Press that Cuba had had “a revolution in terms of values”. Actually, it’s a little unclear what the source for this quote is supposed to be, and the Daily Beast’s article contains at least one careless factual error–incorrectly describing the one-on-one, sit-down interview that Sanders gave in 1985 as a “press conference”.
The transcript also shows Sanders’s explanation of his remarks on Castro (at least the ones in the clip Univision showed) is correct: he was merely pointing out that the Kennedy administration was deluded to believe the Bay of Pigs invasion would lead to a popular uprising against Castro. Indeed, this is something the Kennedy administration itself quickly recognized after the invasion failed. The Bay of Pigs invasion is literally a canonical case study in group-think. Sanders’s comments on it should not be controversial.
Update: Someone on Tumblr alerted me to the fact that there are errors in the transcript, including at least one error that changes the meaning of a sentence–substituting “countries” for “Contras”. I’ve fixed that error, but others may still be there.
Interviewer: [0:07] Hi. We’re here with Mayor Bernard Sanders to talk a little bit about his recent trip to Nicaragua. Welcome.
Bernie Sanders: [0:13] Hi.
Interviewer: [0:14] Hi. I think maybe a good way to start is to ask you when you first became interested in Central American issues.
Bernie: [0:21] I don’t know. Ever since I was a kid, for some strange reason, I was always interested in the problems of Latin America, and had done some reading about it as a young person and in college.
[0:29] Uh, I think one of the things that concerned me, uh, was the way that the United States government had always treated Latin America. And basically, uh, as you know, our history has always been that we have the right to unilaterally get involved and overthrow governments that we, we, don’t like.
[0:46] Uh, President Roosevelt, back in when he was president, uh, when somebody said, “Well, why do you keep supporting all these horrible dictators, these, these people who oppress their people?” He says, “Well, they may be sons of bitches, but they’re our sons of bitches.” That was exactly what he said.
[0:59] Uh, and you know, I, I think at a certain point, one reaches the conclusion that if one believes in democracy, and that, presumably, is what our nation is supposed to be about. How can you defend the right that we, we, can go in with the marines, uh, as we have on many, many occasions, and overthrow any government that we don’t like.
[1:17] And then, if you think a little bit further about it, and you study, uh, political science, or economics, then you understand that time and time again, these interventions in Latin and Central America have been at the, for the benefit of large corporations.
[1:30] Whether it’s the United Fruit Company in Guatemala, or the tin companies, or, or the copper companies in Chile, and you say, “Gee whiz, should foreign policy be made for the benefit of large corporations who want to exploit the people of Latin and Central America? Is that what America is about?” I don’t think it is.
Interviewer: [1:48] Well, when you went down there, how did some of your ideas change? You had a picture of what it looked like in your head, and what did you see?
Bernie: [1:57] Well, like everything else, I mean, I think one of, you know, one knows this is the mayor. It is important to talk to real people and be involved in a real situation. It’s one thing to read books or read articles. It’s another thing to be there.
[2:08] And when you’re there, the whole picture…I mean you see a lot more than you do when you just read something. You know, people have criticized me. They said, “Oh, he came back. He knows everything about Nicaragua. He was there for all of seven days.”
[2:19] It’s not true. I do not claim to be an expert on Nicaragua. I think I learned something in seven days. I am not…I don’t…uh, I’ve never claimed that I know everything. Uh, but I think what one had the opportunity, what I had the opportunity of doing down there, is talking to real, live people.
[2:35] I was very fortunate in being able to talk to many of the government leaders, their President Ortega, and Ernesto Cardenal, and Tomas Borge, and so forth.
[2:43] But, I also, quite intentionally, went out on the streets. We would go into the poorest neighbors of Managua, neighborhoods of Managua, and elsewhere, talk to people. We’d see people sitting on a fence. Stop the car, let’s talk, “How are you…?” And my Spanish is not great, but I could ask some questions, and I had a translator.
[2:59] [intermittent machinery noise]
Bernie: [3:00] Uh, so I tried to get a feeling and a flavor of, uh, what was going on, and I enjoyed that.
Interviewer: [3:05] Hitting the streets and asking people what they thought is, is, an urban kind of thing to do. I think that you get that from growing up in a city and knowing that that’s where the real opinions and the real voice is. What kind of pe-, what kind of response did you get?
Bernie: [3:22] I’ll tell you the response that I got. Among poor people, and working people, and, and what one has to understand is that Nicaragua, while not the poorest country by any means in Central or Latin America, is a poor country. They are all very, very poor countries.
[3:35] You walk into houses and they’re not houses like we know in Burlington, Vermont, or in the state of Vermont. They are shacks. They are plywood shacks, often with dirt floors. OK? Those, those are, that’s where people live. And you talk to people and you say, basically, “How are things now, since the revolution in 1979, as opposed to it before?”
[3:54] And, almost without exception, there were exceptions. I mean, uh, no one should think that the Sandinista government has the support of a hundred percent of the people. They most certainly do not. They had an election where all they got was 62 or 63 percent of the vote.
[4:07] OK, that means 35 percent of the people voted for somebody else. So, we talk to people and among poor and working people, there was a very strong feeling that the revolution that they had made was their revolution. That they had fought against a very horrible Somoza dictatorship, which was Somoza owned the whole country, and he and his friends ripped off the whole country.
[4:26] They were rather vicious in dealing with their political opposition, and most of the poor people, and the working people I talked to, felt that the situation was much better now than it had been before.
[4:33] There was, and make no mistake about this, serious concerns about the economic conditions in Nicaragua. People were telling you, “It just costs us a fortune to get this item and that item.” And some of those people are blaming the government.
[4:44] But, I think what should be understood is that problem exists all around Central America, it’s not, and Latin America. I, I, I don’t want to get into that. I want to talk about the trip, but I think many Americans are not aware of the horrendous conditions existing all around the Third World.
[4:58] You see the pictures on television about Ethiopia, all right. Well, that’s obviously not happening in Nicaragua. But all over Latin America and Central America, you do have hunger, you have malnutrition, you have disease, very, very serious problems. The Third World today is facing the most serious crisis it’s faced since the Depression, if not ever. And those problems exist in Nicaragua.
Interviewer: [5:20] What kind of things…You went not only and spoke with the people, but you went to hospitals, and schools, and different places like that. How would you evaluate the progress that the Sandinistas have made in those areas?
Bernie: [5:32] Nobody denies. I mean, you go and you speak to the leaders of the opposition, and they will not deny. How can you deny when you had illiteracy of 50 percent several years ago, and now it’s down to 13, or 14 percent?
[5:41] No one denies that that’s of great importance. No one denies that they are building health clinics. Health care in Nicaragua is now free. It is terrible. It is very primitive compared to what we get. You know, it’s not the Medical Center of Vermont there, believe me, but they now have it free.
[5:56] They are doing a lot of preventative health care. Kids were dying there because they had diarrhea, and they couldn’t resist the diseases that came. They’re now effectively treating that. Uh, infant mortality has been greatly reduced.
[6:07] Uh, so I think, in terms of health care, in terms of education, in terms of land reform, giving, for the first time in their lives, real land to farmers so that they can have something that they grow. Nobody denies that they are making a significant progress in those areas.
[6:23] And I think people understand that, and people of Nicaragua, the poor people respect that. Rich people, needless to say, or used to have the good life there, are not terribly happy. And I think where the confusion is, is that by the time that Somoza was ready to go out, everybody despised this guy.
[6:38] There was an earthquake, as you know, in Nicaragua. Millions and millions of dollars came in from all around the world to help rebuild Managua, and this guy pocketed the money. It was typical. And he was a thief and a crook. So, by the time he was ready to go, everybody, even the business community who had worked with him for years, despised the guy.
[6:55] But then, after he was gone, I think what many members of the Nicaraguan establishment felt, “Well, we’ve got rid of that guy. Now, we’ll get a nicer guy in there who’ll also protect the interest of the rich people, but not as viciously or in as ugly a way as Somoza did.”
[7:05] Well, the Sandinista’s apparently did not agree with that. They really were talking about a transformation of society giving power to the poor people, to the working people, and that has caused the conflict, uh, needless to say, in Nicaragua which we’re seeing today.
Interviewer: [7:17] Do you find that the people of Nicaragua are relatively sophisticated in their political views?
Bernie: [7:22] Oh, I mean, when you talk politics in Nicaragua it is not like talking politics in the United States. You know, people saying, “Well, gee, I don’t know who I’m going to vote for. I probably won’t vote,” or, “I saw a commercial on television last night. Maybe I’ll vote for that thir-,” you know, “good 30 second commercial.”
[7:35] In Nicaragua, what you’re talking about is life and death. It is a question of whether their children are gonna have any kind of dignity or not. When they tell you, and I would ask these questions, “Are you frightened about the possibility of a, of a United States invasion?”
[7:49] And they, you know, their response was,” We’ve been through so much. We’ve had to fight for so long that we don’t want a United States invasion.” Believe me, they’re not macho types, “Eh, we’re gonna take on the United States’ Marines, no problem.” They do not say that. They understand what they’re up against.
[8:05] But, I think when, when President Reagan tells the people of Nicaragua, and he said this many months ago, he says, “Basically, if you get down on your hands and knees, and you cry, ‘Uncle!'” Remember that? This is wonderful, diplomatic relationship. This is the way that our government deals with the Third World.
[8:19] “If you cry, ‘Uncle,'” In other words, if you say that we in America, United States, are going to be the boss, we’ll let you survive.” You can’t say that to these people.
[8:26] I mean, Ortega himself was in jail for eight years. Borge was tortured. All of these people fight. Their wives were killed and raped. I mean, these people are not going to get down on their hands and knees to anybody.
[8:37] And I think what I learned…One of the things that I, I think I learned on my trip, you know, as, as a Socialist, the word socialism does not frighten me, and I think it’s probably fair to say that the Nicaraguan government is primarily a socialist government.
[8:48] But what you, you, learn down there is that they…socialism, or anti-capitalism, is much less prevalent than nationalism. Basically, what they’re saying is, “We’ve been under the thumb of the Marines…”
[9:01] As you know, the Marines installed the Somoza Family. Uh, “We’ve been under the thumb of the United States for our entire modern history, and we’re not going to be under the thumb of anybody anymore. Nicaragua is our country. We will do the right things or the wrong things. We will make our mistakes. But we will make them independently, as an independent and free nation.”
[9:21] That is the theme of their revolution. And I think that that’s very widely felt. Now, I think where there may be confusion…It’s a funny thing, you know, you talk about, “Does the Sandinista government have political support?” Well, as I indicated, in election, they got 63 percent of the vote. A little bit more than Ronald Reagan got, you know.
[9:35] It would be like saying, “Does Ronald Reagan have political support?” Well, if you say that half the people in America did not vote for anybody for President, and of those who voted, Reagan got 60 percent of the vote, that suggests that he has about 30 percent of the support of the American people.
[9:47] If you go around into communities, like in Burlington, Vermont, where he was overwhelmingly defeated, go to Harlem, where 80 and 90 percent of the people did not support him, does he have overwhelming support? He has the support.
[9:57] Does the San-? Sandinista government, in my view, has more support among the Nicaraguan people, substantially more support, than Ronald Reagan has among the American people.
[10:05] And where there’s also, I think, confusion on the part of some people in the United States, is even people who voted against the Sandinista government, they voted for somebody else for President, do you think that that means that they’re going to support an invasion of their own country?
[10:16] I mean, it’s like saying, “I voted against Ronald Reagan.” That does not mean to say that I want to see an invasion of this United States to get rid of Ronald Reagan. We will deal with our own internal politics in our own way. I hope we will vote Reagan out, and reactionary Republicans out.
[10:30] That does not mean to say we want an invasion, and I think many people in Nicaragua feel the same way. They say, “Hey, I don’t like the Sandinista government, but don’t invade our country. We’re going to have to stand with them because we’re an independent people.”
Interviewer: [10:40] So, so you think that the notion of a Civil War running rife in that country is a misconception?
Bernie: [10:45] Oh, God. It absolutely…It’s the same thing, you know, they never learn. You may recall, way back in, what was it, 1961, they invaded Cuba. And everybody was totally convinced that Castro was the worst guy in the world, that all the Cuban people are going to rise up in rebellion against Fidel Castro.
[11:00] They had forgot that he educated the kids, gave them healthcare, totally transformed the society. You know, not to say that the Fidel Castro or Cuba are perfect. They are certainly not, but just because Ronald Reagan dislikes these people does not mean to say that the people in their own nations feel the same way.
[11:15] So, they expected this tremendous uprising in Cuba. It never came. And, if they are expecting a tremendous uprising in Nicaragua, they are very, very, very mistaken.
[11:24] I spoke to Ortega, you know, and I asked him this question. And I said, “If the United States’ government stopped funding the Contras, how long do you think they would last?” You know, and he went, “They wouldn’t last very long.”
[11:36] What you’re talking about is a United States invasion of another nation. Without the support of the United States’ government, these people would be gone very, very quickly.
[11:46] Uh, and, and I think that that’s clear to understand. You’re not talking about a civil war, massive discontent. You’re talking about a small number of people, very heavily armed, trained, and financed by the United States of America.
Interviewer: [11:58] How do the Nicaraguan’s perceive the American people?
Bernie: [12:01] It is, that’s a totally unbelievable phenomenon in which I, I, I quite, quite frankly cannot understand and comprehend. Uh, I remember talking to their Foreign Minister, Father d’Escoto, and he was very clear that they are trying very, very hard to hold down anti-Americanism. And they are succeeding.
[12:18] Uh, as an American going there I was treated with a great deal of friendliness. And I think it’s not just because I was a quote-unquote dignitary. The other thing that one learns, when one goes, and this I didn’t know before, and it may sound naïve, is Central America is America. OK.
[12:34] See, I didn’t know that before. They are Americans. They play baseball, you know, they watch the same crappy television, American television programs. They consider themselves to be Americans. There is a natural fondness. There is a, you know, Ortega articulates this, and average people on the street feel this.
[12:51] You know, as I was talking to some guy there in the, a low-level guy, in the government, he says, “Yeah, we got Russian films here. Nobody watches the Russian films. They’re very boring. Their cars are uncomfortable.” They feel much more closely aligned with the United States.
[13:04] Now, Ronald Reagan may be successful in doing something which is in fact very hard to do, but he may in fact, be successful in driving this country, which wants to be close to the United States, into the arms of the Soviet Union.
[13:15] I mean, if he invades that country, if he tries to destroy that nation, he may bring about the impossible, is make them into a rigid communist country aligned with the Soviet Union. It will be very hard to do, but his policies are leading us in that direction.
[13:28] Everything being equal, they would like to have a warm relationship to the United States, and they like American people. They do not hold the average American responsible for what Reagan is doing.
Interviewer: [13:37] How do you find the sincerity of Sandinista leaders?
Bernie: [13:40] I was impressed. Now, obviously, I will be attacked by every editorial writer in the Free Press for being a dumb dupe. Uh, maybe I am. Uh, I was impressed by their intelligence and by their sincerity. These are not political hacks, you know. They don’t, you know, you don’t fight and lose your family, and get tortured, and go to jail for years to be a hack.
[14:01] Uh, they have very deep convictions, which people can disagree with, and I think what is understood is, even within the Sandinista government, they’re not monolithic. There are some, well, you know, more socialistic than others.
[14:12] You know, there are priests who hold, you have at least two priests who hold…you have at least two priests, Ernesto Cardenal is a priest, then Father d’Escoto was a priest. Many differences, there are different points of view. They’re not monolithic.
[14:21] Uh, I was impressed by Father d’Escoto and the thought that, uh, I visited him when he was having his, uh, fast, when he was fasting. And, and, my thought is, uh, is if this guy is the leader…
[14:32] Ronald Reagan has decided that Nicaragua is a terrorist nation. And if this guy is the Foreign Minister of a terrorist nation, then they should get another Foreign Minister because he is a very gentle, very loving man. He’s familiar with Burlington, Vermont. He had a niece who graduated, uh, from, uh, Saint Michael’s College, actually, who is now working for the government of Nicaragua.
[14:51] Uh, Ortega is an impressive guy. Uh, Ernesto Cardenal is a, is a funny-looking guy. He has gray hair, and he really does remind you of the hippie.
[15:00] I mean Ernesto, and in fact, uh, you know, we talked…he’s very strongly into poetry, uh, he is, uh, very proud of the fact that they are now teaching poetry, not only to peasants and to workers, but in the military, uh, in the police department. A, a very impressive guy.
Interviewer: [15:19] Um, were they interested in Burlington, to know about what you do and the people here?
Bernie: [15:27] Yeah. The answer is yes, then, and they are aware of the fact that we have a Sister City Program. It was also obviously clear that as the…
[15:34] I mean, it’s unbelievable to say that a mayor of the city of 38,000 is now the highest-ranking American to visit them during the celebration of their revolution. I was treated, you know, in, in a special way. I think it’s clear they wanted to make an overture to Americans and they were very kind to me.
Interviewer: [15:51] Did you have suggestions for them how they could organize their, um, PR a little bit more effectively?
Bernie: [15:54] I think it’s, yes. I mean, I, I, the point that I try to make, to many of the people that I spoke to, is they’re getting killed in the American media.
Interviewer: [16:01] Mm-hmm.
Bernie: [16:02] They just cannot compete. Reagan and his people are so sophis-, they own the airwaves, of course, Reagan and the media. Every time Reagan gives them a photo-opportunity, thousands, “Thank you, Mr. President. Thank you very much for telling us another lie.” Uh, you know, and the media, of course, is not allowed to ask sharp questions of the President. That’s not allowed.
[16:18] Uh, and, you know, my point to Ortega is they are not getting their message of what they are trying to do out to the American people. And there’s, there’s just no question about that. Uh, and they just don’t have that kind of sophistication to understand how to manipulate the media as, you know…
[16:35] The White House has dozens of people who are trained. They are trained and well-paid people who are professional manipulators of the media. They have their contacts in CBS, and NBC, and ABC. That’s what they’re paid to do, and they do it very, very well. You know, Ortega is the President of a country of three million people. They have, probably, one television station.
[16:51] They have no sophistication. They have no knowledge as to when you call, you gotta like call, press conferences that the media can’t even use here in the United States ’cause it’s the wrong time. You know, there’s a whole science around this which they’re not aware of. They have contacts now with, they’ve hired a public relations firm in the United States and their trying to improve it.
[17:08] But, the main point is I think they have got to very greatly improve their ability to communicate with the average American, uh, and that’s what I said to them.
Interviewer: [17:18] Um, the woman who’s the head of the Human Rights Commission in Nicaragua, when we went to see her, said, “In a way our work here is much easier than your work in America. You have to convince the people of America that there is a problem.”
[17:34] What can you see, first is what you would like to do as mayor, or can do, and what people, American Citizens, can do to help that country?
Bernie: [17:42] I think the first…American people, many of us, are intellectually lazy, and we really don’t have that right. What’s going on in Nicaragua, and the poverty that exists in Nicaragua, is not, certainly, unusual, given the nature of the Third World.
[17:59] I don’t know that many people in the United States understand now, that one quarter of the world, the entire world, is facing hunger and starvation. The burning issue around much of the world is not whether it’s the New Coke or the Old Coke. It really is not. It’s whether, or not, we’re gonna get any rice or any sustenance at all to keep our children alive. And I think many of us in this country do not understand that.
[18:20] All that I would ask is that Americans unders-. We made a revolution 200 years ago against the British. And, believe me, the causes of our revolution, which were just and right, and we’re very proud of our revolution, were nickel-and-dime stuff compared to what’s going on in the Third World.
[18:36] George Washington and Thomas Jefferson were not fighting ’cause their kids were starving. That’s, that’s the truth. What’s going on in Latin America today is a crisis unparalleled in the history of that continent. The economies of many countries are literally collapsing.
[18:50] People bring up the point, and they say, “Gee, look what’s going on in Nicaragua. There’s inflation, the cost of everything is very high.” It’s absolutely true. But, look what’s going on in Guatemala. In Bolivia, the economy has collapsed. Money is no longer worth anything. It’s 15,000 percent inflation. They can’t pay off their debts to the United States’ banks.
[19:05] The amount of money that the Third World and Latin America are getting for their commodities, whether it’s coffee, or cotton, or, or, or natural resources, minerals, uh, is, is not as much compared to what they have to pay for to process the materials, the manufacturing material.
[19:20] Crisis all over the place, and if President Reagan thinks that anytime a government comes along, which in its wisdom, rightly or wrongly, is doing the best for its people, he has the right to overthrow that government, you’re going to be at war. Not only with Latin America, but with the entire Third World.
[19:33] And what you’re seeing, of course, the media doesn’t portray this terribly much in the United States. What we are doing is not supported by the rest of the world. It’s not supported by our, you know, neigh-, our allies in Western Europe.
[19:43] It is, I mentioned this to Ortega, I said, “You know, when you came and you went to the Soviet Union, that’s all that the American media were full of. The American media, and the American people, think that your only allies that you’ll have in the world are Cuba and the Soviet Union.”
[19:53] He says, “I know.” He says, “But, when I was on that trip, I also went to Western Europe, met with many leaders of Western Countries, we received…” I believe they received $200 million from the Soviet Union in help, $200 million from Western Democracies in help.
[20:06] Canada, the great communist-totalitarian country to the north of us, 50 miles north of us, has just entered into a very positive trade relationship with Nicaragua.
[20:15] All over Latin America, even when there are disagreements with the Sandinista governments, none of these countries are saying to the United States, “Come on in and invade these people.” No country is saying that in Latin America.
[20:25] So, the United States’s attitude and its belief that it can overthrow any government that it wants, especially a democratically-elected government, nobody around the world, we’re getting out-voted in the United Nations, we’ve got a handful of countries, you know, may-, probably South Africa is staying with us on this issue
[20:40] And I think Americans do not understand the degree to which we’re being isolated. There is a crisis in the Third World. People are fighting to keep their children from starving to death, and, frankly, they don’t give a damn about what Ronald Reagan feels. They’re trying to do the best that they can do.
[20:53] And we are going to be taking on the entire world. We’re going to be the enemy of the struggles of poor people, and that’s a terrible thing. If we get involved…and you know, I asked the Nicaraguans this, and their feeling about an invasion of from the United States is, “We’ve gone through a whole lot. We overthrew Somoza, we’ll endure this, too.”
[21:09] They don’t want it. They don’t want it. And if the people in the United States think that you’re gonna walk in there, and just overthrow these people, and kick them out, you’re mistaken. We are very mistaken. They are a very brave people. They’re gonna fight. And they’ll fight in the jungles and they’ll keep fighting.
[21:21] I mean, I’m not saying that the United States, which has a thousand times the military strength of a little country, three million people. You know, if the United States can militarily defeat them, no question about it, but it’s gonna be a never-ending war and the war will spread.
[21:34] Next, it’d be Guatemala, you know, and then there’ll be fighting in Chile and it’ll be here and there, and there. We’re gonna be at war with a whole continent, and it’s not a good idea.
Interviewer: [21:43] What can, uh, uh, people in Burlington to support the Nicaraguans?
Bernie: [21:47] Well, believe me, if the rest of the country was as sophisticated on this issue as the people of Burlington, Ronald Reagan would not be, uh, exercising the policies that he’s exercising today.
[21:57] Uh, I think, first of all, there’s got to be an understanding. There has got to be a statement that what is going on is criminal. It’s illegal. You cannot be giving money to people to destroy a democratic-elected government. I think we have got to stand up.
[22:08] You know what’s ironic is you read these polls, there was recently a Washington Post/ABC Poll, and I forgot exactly what the number is, but well up in the 70s. People said, “We don’t believe that we have the right to overthrow the Nicaraguan government.”
[22:21] People are saying it. That’s what the average American feels, and if you say to the average American, “Do you think we should have a Vietnam-type war in Central America?” I think the answer is overwhelmingly, “No,” but I don’t hear those voices standing up.
[22:32] Now and then, you have senators, like Senator Leahy, who has a good position on this, and, obviously, many people in the Congress. But, I think that the average American should be standing up and saying to President Reagan, “Hey, Mr. President, you’re cutting Social, you want to cut Social Security. You’re cutting health care. You’re cutting programs for the poor, for the elderly.”
[22:46] Listen, If you don’t want to help Nicaragua, fine, don’t help Nicaragua. I would like to see positive help, but at least don’t spend our money that we need here in the United States to destroy that government.
[22:55] I think people are intimidated by Reagan. They’re afraid that he’s going to get on the television, give this dramatic speech equating the murderous Contras with the Founding Fathers of our country, and that is, that is an insult.
[23:06] Believe me, that is an insult to all Americans, uh, and to the people who helped create our country and write our Declaration of Independence. The Contras are not Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine, believe me. Uh, and I think, uh, people have got to stand up to Reagan, and I think maybe we’ll see more of that.
Interviewer: [sighs] [23:23] Oh, I think, um, that is my last question. I’ve got a lot that I can ask you, but I think that we’ll, um, put a stop there. And there’s one more thing that I wanted to know. You had an open invitation to the press to…
Bernie: [23:41] Yes.
Interviewer: [23:42] …talk to you about this.
Bernie: [23:43] That’s correct.
Interviewer: [23:44] How many people have taken you up on that?
Bernie: [23:45] One reporter did, a writer for the Rutland Herald, who was very concerned about the Miskito Indian situation, who wrote a very negative article on me. She took me up, we chatted for about an hour. No other reporter has come and said…
[23:55] Reporters are very upset that I did not allow…On this very complicated issue of Nicaragua, where you can talk for many, many hours. We haven’t touched the surface, and we’ve been chatting for 15 minutes. But I was not willing to deal with all kinds of questions. But, I said, “Please, anyone that has further questions, I’d be happy to sit down at length.” One reporter came in.
Interviewer: [24:11] Very good, thank you very much.
Bernie: [24:13] Thank you.
Interviewer: [24:14] This has been CCTV, with the Mayor.
[24:16] [machinery noise only]