Beyond Debate: Sanders Calls Out Clinton's Latin America Record

Just a few months ago, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders referred to Hugo Chavez as a “dead communist dictator,” after Hillary Clinton-allied groups linked Sanders’ ideas to those of the late Venezuelan leader. The accusations directed at Sanders’ were made in light of a 2005 deal with the Bolivarian government that resulted in discounted heating oil being delivered to poor families in the northeastern U.S. state.

Sanders and Clinton stand on the podium at Wednesday

By calling him a “dictator,” Sanders had ignored the fact that Chavez was democratically elected three times by the Venezuelan people. Unsurprisingly, the Vermont senator’s comments offended millions of supporters of the Bolivarian revolution, drawing criticism from the Venezuelan and wider Latin American left.

But Sanders struck a different tone in his debate with Clinton in Florida Wednesday, where he locked horns with the former secretary of state in front of a Hispanic-dominated audience.

The Vermont senator and social democrat refused to shy away from praising progressive movements in Latin America, while Clinton was at her all-out reactionary best, expressing contempt for the likes of Cuba and refusing to acknowledge her support for policies that have sown discord in the hemisphere.

When quizzed over comments Sanders made about Fidel Castro, who he once said “educated kids, gave them healthcare and totally changed society,” Sanders commented that he still believes the “U.S. was wrong to try to invade Cuba.” Predictably, Clinton disagreed with Sanders’ argument, branding Cuba an oppressive country that continues to “disappear” people for expressing their opinion.

When asked about the difference between the “socialism” he professes and the socialism of Nicaragua, Cuba and Venezuela, Sanders continued to reassert a position of non-intervention. “It was wrong to support people trying to overthrow the Nicaraguan government. It was wrong to overthrow the democratically elected government of Guatemala,” he said.       

In keeping with his position, Sanders openly rejected the Monroe Doctrine, the U.S. foreign policy of 1823 that institutionalized unilateral intervention and U.S. hegemony in the hemisphere. The Vermont senator expressed complete disagreement with the 1973 overthrow of Salvador Allende in Chile, remembered on the continent for the rise of the Augusto Pinochet regime that saw thousands killed and tens of thousands tortured.


Of course, Sanders’ moral stance on Latin America has a history - making his comments on Chavez all the more surprising. The Vermont senator once wrote to former President Ronald Reagan, condemning the U.S. leader’s intervention in Nicaragua in the “strongest possible terms.” Documents unearthed in February also point to Sanders’ support for the Sandinistas, the left-wing group that overthrew a dictatorship, while he objected to U.S. support for the Contras.

And Clinton? Her words Wednesday speak for themselves, but more than words so do her policies. Once referring to Latin American leaders as “petulant children,” in the past Clinton has sought to sow division between Brazil and Venezuela, and in 2009 the former U.S. secretary of state supported a deadly coup against left-wing Honduran president Manuel Zelaya.         

For Clinton and the wider U.S. political establishment, Chavez’s success in creating free healthcare, education, housing and pensions and his achievement in cutting poverty by an astonishing 72% are anathema. And even though Sanders represents the social democracy of Europe than the socialism of Latin America, any challenge to neoliberal orthodoxy is clearly seen as a challenge too far.

Is it any surprise then that Sanders’ proposed programs of free healthcare and education have caused such a stir?

Importance of Cuba in Regional Trade Highlighted

In a new regional economic correlation, Cuba is an important player of tourist destination and other fields, assured the president of the Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture of Panama, Carlos Fernández.

In a press conference on occasion of the 34th Expocomer Commercial Fair 2016, the businessman extolled the way in which the island is inserted in the world market, reason why it attends this edition of the Fair not only with its traditional products, but also with new ones.

Fernandez also referred as to how the devaluation of some currencies has a negative impact on strategic economies of the region like

Argentina, Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Chile and Venezuela, situation that has its impact in the Duty Free Zone of Colon, where the prices of many goods and services increased.

Despite this, Panama has kept growing for over ten years and for this year, it is projected to maintain its growth rate near its potential, he added.

The president of the Organizing Committee of Expocomer, Raul del Valle, explained this year it is expected to have the participation of exhibitors and buyers of some 30 countries of America, the Caribbean, Europe and Asia, in the lookout for opportunities to diversify their businesses. He said the present version of the Fair will be the largest in size in its history, with an area of 17 thousand square meters, distributed in 700 exhibition stands.

Among the products with greater presence in the commercial venue stand out foods, beverages, accessories and textiles, services, state of the art technologies and heavy equipment; while the countries most represented will be India, China, Taiwan and Mexico.

DelValle stressed the presence for the first time of Slovakia, while Belgium will be present with a pavilion, and the reason is that Âmany countries see Expocomer as a new opportunity of doing business in Central America, South America and

the Caribbean'.

He also said in this occasion they expect to exceed the number of visitors regarding last year that was 10 thousand 500, as well as transactions that in 2015 totaled

124 million dollars.

The president of the Organizing Committee also announced the presence of some 120 businesspeople from Central America and the Caribbean, who will participate in the third Business Round.

Parallel to the multisector fair, from March 9 thru 12, will be taking place other important events like the traditional launch of the National Prize to Business Innovation and the Forum Panama Venue of Multinational companies. Business Opportunities, present and future.

  • Published in Now

Foreign Ministers Define Agenda of CELAC Summit in Ecuador

Quito, Jan 26 (Prensa Latina) The foreign ministers of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) are meeting today in Ecuador to discuss the agenda for tomorrow's summit, and the statements they will submit for the consideration of the rulers.

  • Published in World
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