Sanders correctly stated that education became universal in Castro’s Cuba, but he ignored the deeply Orwellian nature of the educational system. Literacy was not sought by the Cuban regime just for the sake of literacy. From the outset, the regime viewed education, as two experts on Cuba explained in The Atlantic, as the “key to the revolution taking hold and creating a literate population loyal to the government.”
Cuban children were taught in school that their highest loyalty is to the Communist Party. They were instructed to denounce their parents to authorities for counter-revolutionary tendencies. If parents, in the privacy of their own home, explained ideas to their children that conflicted with communist ideology, they could be jailed for three years under the Code for Children, Youth and Family.
The school system stifled private religious beliefs. Cuban children were taught that God does not exist and that religion was the “opium of the masses.” If a child mentioned God in a class, the child’s parents were called in for a stern lecture that they were “confusing” the child and given a warning.
Sanders was not a liberal during the Cold War, i.e. someone who favored arms control, peace talks, and opposed support for anti-Communist movements. He was an outright Communist sympathizer, meaning he was always willing to overlook or excuse the crimes of regimes like Cuba and Nicaragua; always ready to suggest that only American hostility forced them to, among other things, arrest their opposition, expel priests, and dispense with elections.
Good ol’ consistent Bernie reprised one of the greatest hits of the pro-Castro Left last week on 60 Minutes. When Anderson Cooper pressed the senator by noting that Castro imprisoned a lot of dissidents, Sanders said he condemned such things. But even that grudging acknowledgment rankled the old socialist, who then rushed to add, “When Fidel Castro came into office, you know what he did? He had a massive literacy program. Is that a bad thing?”
Actually, the first thing Castro did upon seizing power (note Sanders’s whitewashing term “came into office”) was to march 600 of Fulgencio Batista’s supporters into two of the island’s largest prisons, La Cabana and Santa Clara. Over the next five months, after rigged trials, they were shot. Some “trials” amounted to public spectacles.