By Scotty T. Reid – The day after presidential candidate US Senator Bernie Sanders appeared in the DNC debates hosted by ABC/Univision, the unapologetic Democratic Socialist participated in a Latino voter townhall where he answered questions related to Trump’s current immigration policies and where he stands in relation to other candidates vying for the DNC nomination.
However the previous night, Sanders appeared on the debate stage with nine other candidates at the HBCU Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas. Jorge Gilberto Ramos Ávalos who goes by the stage name Jorge Ramos, a Mexican-born American journalist and author who works for Univision was afforded space as a moderator in the debate. Ramos seemed to single out Sen. Sanders for a question in asking Sen. Sanders in an accusatory tone if he considered the President of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro a “socialist dictator”.
Ramos in his “question” to Sanders on if Maduro was a socialist dictator, the Univision journalist front-loaded the question with assertions that the target of Donald Trump’s plot to bring about regime change in Venezuela was disappearing, torturing and killing people.
Sander’s astutely recognized what Ramos attempted to do and began his answer by declaring what his democratic vision of socialism entails which includes a litany of human rights the senator ticked off. Sanders then declares that anyone engaged in human rights abuses is a tyrant without naming Maduro and then suggested that multiple nations in the region must work together to resolve the human rights crisis that is occurring in Venezuela.
The non-profit media organization Democracy Now provided a clip of the exchange with context from journalist Juan Gonzales who put Ramos’s question in its proper political context.
Speaking to a group of Latin American voters in Las Vegas the very next day, Sander’s repeated his assertion that solving Latin America’s problems will take a coalition of nations rejecting the US policy of unilateral regime change. However, Sanders was brutally honest about US foreign policy in Latin America and why people risk their lives to leave their homes and migrate to the United States.
Sanders named the white supremacist Monroe Doctrine as a contributor to mass migration out of nations south of the US border. The Monroe Doctrine was and some would say still is the United States foreign policy of opposing European colonialism in the Americas in the early 1800s so that it could colonize those countries and allow US corporations to exploit the people, the land and their resources. Sanders mentioned the Nixon administration’s overthrow of President Salvador Allende in 1970 who was democratically elected in Chile as an example.
When it comes to human rights, Sen. Bernie Sanders’s platform stands above that of the rest of the Democratic field and thus far the only candidate with the guts to acknowledge US foreign policy as a destabilizing force around the world that is forcing people to flee their homelands in search of safety.
As far as Ramos’s questions concerning torture, the current POTUS, Donald Trump ran a 2016 campaign blatantly endorsing the use of torture and one would assume as POTUS, has given the green light to US intelligence agencies to resume use of their torture techniques.
It was Sen. Bernie Sanders who stood on the floor of Congress calling out George W. Bush’s torture program. It was Sanders in 2007 that called out the gross US violations of the Geneva Convention standards on torture in the use of waterboarding and enhanced interrogation techniques. It was Sanders who voted not to confirm Gina Haspel, Trump’s nominee to the lead the CIA who had been implicated in overseeing torture sessions at a CIA black site.
Given Sanders’s history on where he stands on torture, Ramos’s question to him is all the more suspect and one should suspect that it was not the debate moderator’s intent to get Sanders to condemn Mudaro but rather to link socialism to human rights crimes in the mind of viewers. There is a concerted effort in the mainstream media to put socialism on trial in order to degrade support of Senator Sanders hoping to play on the ignorance of voters when it comes to US foreign policy.