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WATCH: Here’s How Nelson Mandela Answered When He Was Confronted By Media for Praising Fidel Castro

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Independent Vermont Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has been taking flak for his ongoing praise of late Cuban dictator Fidel Castro, but 30 years ago, it was then-recently released political prisoner Nelson Mandela who was pressed to explain his own devotion to Castro.

Sanders has praised Cuba’s health care and education for decades, and has recently endured fierce political attacks for doubling down on that praise.But Reverend Al Sharpton offered several defenses of Sanders on Wednesday, one of which involved Mandela’s 1990 town hall event with ABC News’ Ted Koppel.

During that event, Mandela was repeatedly pressed about his praise for Castro, as well as several other reviled world figures. Former Reagan administration diplomat Ken Adelman told Mandela he was “disappointed” in him for praising Castro, Yasser Arafat, and Muammar Gaddafi on the issue of human rights.

“I was just wondering, are these your models of leaders of human rights, and if so would you want a Gaddafi or an Arafat or a Castro to be a future president of South Africa?” Adelman asked.

Mandela responded:

One of the mistakes which some political analysts make is to think that their enemies should be our enemies. That we can’t and we will never do. We have our own struggle which we are conducting.

We are grateful to the world for supporting our struggle. But nevertheless we are an independent organization with its own policy. And the attitude of every country towards, our attitude towards any country is determined by the attitude of that country to our struggle.

Yasser Arafat, Colonel Gaddafi, Fidel Castro support our struggle to the hilt. There is no reason whatsoever why we should have any hesitation about hailing their commitment to human rights as they are being demanded in South Africa.

Our attitude is based solely on the fact that they fully support the anti-apartheid struggle. They do not support it only in rhetoric, they are placing resources at our disposal for us. To win the struggle. That is the position.

Koppel called Mandela’s statements “controversial,” and called on Henry Sigmund to ask a follow-up, mainly about Arafat and the PLO.

Mandela explained “Firstly we are a liberation movement which is fully involved in a struggle to emancipate our people from one of the worst racial tyrannies the world has seen,” and added “We have no time to be looking into the internal affairs of other countries.”

He then went on to explain his organization’s — The African National Congress — position on the Arab-Israeli peace process.

Watch the clip above via SA History.

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