The harsh distancing may have been a step too far for lefty fans of the late Venezuelan strongman and his American comrade. A press release on the same incident preserved at BernieSanders.com refers instead to “the late Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.”
Apparently all is forgiven. Last month Nicolas Maduro, Chavez’s hand-picked successor, praised Sanders as “an emerging candidate with a renovating and revolutionary message.”
And why not? In addition to oil deals, Sanders and the Bolivarian regime in Caracas have much in common. Venezuela has people waiting for hours to buy strictly rationed quantities of basic foodstuffs, and the Vermont senator loves him some bread lines.
“Sometimes American journalists talk about how bad a country is because people are lining up for food. That’s a good thing,” Sanders told interviewers in 1985. “In other countries people don’t line up for food; the rich get the food and the poor starve to death.”
Actually, it’s a bit odd that Sanders would care what American journalists talk about, given the “democratic” socialist also tends to share the Venezuelan government’s disdain for independent voices. Long before Chavez gained power in Caracas, Sanders expressed support for the suppression of dissent and censorship of the press implemented in his long-favored models of socialist Shangri-La: Cuba and Nicaragua. The Sandinista regime’s restrictions on the independent newspaper La Prensa “makes sense to me” he commented at the time, even as he sparred with Vermont’s Burlington Free Press over his Castro fanboy-ism.