Courtesy of Office of Congresswoman Karen Bass
Courtesy of Office of Congresswoman Karen Bass

Potential Biden VP pick, Karen Bass rejects comments she made about Fidel Castro

Congressmember Bass tries to avoid escalating controversy for a statement she released after the passing of Fidel Castro.



June 7th, 2023

Here We Go Again

June 7th, 2023


Congressmember Karen Bass is chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and formerly served as the Speaker of the California State Assembly. 

She also is the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations. 

Her signature issues include U.S.-Africa policy, student debt and criminal justice. 

On criminal justice, she recently introduced the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act of 2020

Her name has been mentioned as one of the strongest options available to be Joe Biden’s vice presidential pick. 

Biden has committed to picking a female running mate since the last Democratic primary debate in March. There has been a growing pressure for the presumptive Democratic nominee to pick a Black woman as vice president because of  their loyalty to the party. 

Bass seems to be a well-rounded pick for the position, but one thing could impede that from happening. 

On the day Cuban leader Fidel Castro died, Representative Bass released a statement that referred to him as “the Comandante en Jefe (Commander in Chief)” and said it would be “a great loss to the Cuban people.” 

The comment is sure to not sit well with Cuban-Americans in Florida, a crucial swing state. 

Most of the Cubans in Southern Florida loathe the Castro regime because they believe the revolutionary leader was an oppressive dictator. 

Castro liberated the island from the U.S.-backed dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista in 1959, but his alliance with the Soviet Union forced the United States to place an embargo on the country in 1962, which is still in place today. 

The embargo worsened Cuba’s economic standing and this coupled with Castro jailing political opponents made thousands flee to Florida. 

Because of this, many of the Cubans in the Southern state lean conservative and condemn all leftist uprisings in Latin America like in Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Bolivia.

Florida is the third-largest state in the U.S. and worth 29 electoral votes. Trump won the state back in 2016, but if Biden wins the Sunshine state and any rust-belt state he secures his election victory. 

Bass walked back her statement in an interview on MSNBC on Sunday. 

“I have talked to my colleagues in the House about that, and it’s certainly something that I would not say again. I have always supported the Cuban people, and the relationship that Barack Obama and Biden had in their administration in terms of opening up relations,” Bass said.

The potential vice presidential pick went on to label the legacy of the Castro regime as “very troubling.” 

This controversy mirrors the one that was used to end Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ campaign earlier this year. 

Before the South Carolina primary debate, comments that Sanders — a self-identified Democratic Socialist — made about the Castro regime resurfaced in an interview with Anderson Cooper on 60 Minutes

Sanders claimed when he was the mayor of Burlington, VT that Castro was a transformative leader and it was because of his policies that the Cuban people did not help the U.S. overthrow him. 

“We’re very opposed to the authoritarian nature of Cuba but you know it’s unfair to simply say everything is bad. 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?” the Senator told Cooper. 

This was used as a talking point by his fellow primary rivals to label Sanders as a communist and an authoritarian sympathizer. He was criticized for saying something that echoed comments Barack Obama made on a visit to Argentina in 2016 about the former leader. 

“And I said this to President Castro in Cuba. I said look you made great progress in educating young people. Every child in Cuba gets a basic education — that’s a huge improvement from where it was. Medical care — You know the life expectancy of Cubans is equivalent to the United States despite it being a poorer country, because they have access to health care. That’s a huge achievement. They should be congratulated,” the former president said

It should be noted that Obama was not seeking reelection when this comment was made and he won Florida in the two times he ran. 


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