Caracas, September 17, 2015 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders lashed out at the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez this week in response to a Clinton super PAC email linking him the late socialist leader.
“Yesterday, one of Hillary Clinton’s most prominent Super PACs attacked our campaign pretty viciously,” the independent Vermont senator told his supporters in a campaign fundraising email.
“They suggested I’d be friendly with Middle East terrorist organizations, and even tried to link me to a dead communist dictator,” the email continued, referring to Venezuela’s three time democratically-elected former president Hugo Chávez.
The statement came in response to a email circulated on Monday by the pro-Hillary Clinton super Political Action Committee (PAC) Correct the Record, comparing Sanders to the newly elected head of Britain’s Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn.
Following Sanders’ praise for the left-leaning Labour MP upon his victory this past Saturday, the Clinton campaign took aim at the self-proclaimed democratic socialist politician, seeking to link him with Corbyn’s “most extreme comments”.
Corbyn has been branded a “national security threat” by UK Prime Minister David Cameron for his foreign policy postures, which include opposition to NATO and support for the “electoral democratic credentials” of Hugo Chávez’s Bolivarian Revolution.
Breaking with its hitherto standing policy of refraining from criticizing Sanders, the Clinton campaign sought to draw links between the two anti-party establishment progressives, pointing to the Vermont independent’s role in negotiating a 2005 deal with the Bolivarian government to bring free and discounted home heating oil to the poor in northeastern US cities.
However, Sanders’ distancing from Chávez, labeling him a “dead communist dictator” has caused disenchantment in some circles, who reject what they view as an offensive characterization of the immensely popular, democratically-elected late president, whose socialist government has won eighteen internationally recognized elections since 1998.
“Venezuela has become . . . the bad guy. We’re the villain,” Venezuela’s chargé d’affaires in Washington, Maximilien Sanchez Arvelaiz, told reporters.
In March, President Obama issued an executive order branding Venezuela a “national security threat” and imposing sanctions over unproven allegations of “human rights violations”.
Sanders, who has surpassed Hillary Clinton in the Iowa and New Hampshire polls, has up until recently avoided issuing statements on US foreign policy, preferring to focus on confronting economic inequality.
"For the left, Hugo Chavez is/was a reference,” Sanchez asserted, noting that Jeremy Corbyn recently won a landslide victory notwithstanding his public endorsement of the revolutionary Venezuelan leader and his democratic socialist project.
Meanwhile, the Sanders campaign has made fresh statements in response to the Clinton attacks, further disavowing any links with Chávez.
“To equate bringing home heating oil to low-income Vermonters with support for the Chavez government is dishonest,” Sanders spokesperson Michael Briggs told the Huffington Post.