Bernie Sanders on the 2020 campaign trail



U.S. 2020: Bernie Sanders on the Issues That Affect Latin America

We look at where the Vermont senator stands on immigration, trade, security, climate change, and Venezuela.

Though he was an early leader in the 2020 Democratic presidential primary contest, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders now trails former Vice President Joe Biden in the delegate count and national polls after the latter was able to consolidate support for his ticket around Super Tuesday. Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is the one other remaining candidate.

Sanders served as the state’s at-large representative in the U.S. House from 1991 until 2007, when he moved to the Senate. In the upper house, his committee assignments are by and large focused on domestic issues. He’s been an independent for most of his political career, though he invariably caucuses with the Democrats and signed a loyalty pledge in filing for the party’s 2020 nomination race. He was Hillary Clinton’s principal primary challenger for the nomination in 2016. Here’s a look at his positions on climate change, immigration, security, trade, and Venezuela, as well as notable statements on regional issues during the campaign.

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Climate change


  • Sanders joins other candidates in calling for an end to the Remain in Mexico program and the cooperative asylum agreements the Trump administration inked with Guatemala, El Salvador, and Honduras. He then proposes to convene a hemispheric summit with the leaders of the Northern Triangle countries and Mexico to discuss the root causes of migration and how to address them. 
  • Sanders, in his second bid for the Democratic presidential nomination, would put a temporary halt on all deportations and decriminalize border crossings, instead making them a civil offense.
  • He would establish a five-year path to citizenship for all undocumented immigrants living in the United States.
  • He also supports extending legal protections for DACA and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) recipients and those who are eligible for the two programs, with the goal of ensuring that 85 percent of undocumented immigrants who have lived and worked in the United States for at least five years can stay without the threat of deportation. 
  • The senator would also extend TPS designations. In 2016, he called on then-President Barack Obama to stop deporting Central American immigrants fleeing violence in the region, saying they should instead be offered TPS. 




Notable statements

  • The day after the long-time Bolivian President Evo Morales stepped down amid an election crisis, Sanders tweeted his concern about “what appears to be a coup” in the Andean country. He reiterated that characterization on a Meet the Press appearance on February 9.
  • In an episode of 60 Minutes that aired February 23 regarding his assessment of Fidel Castro, Sanders cited the deceased head of state's literacy program in Cuba, saying, “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?” When interviewer Anderson Cooper noted the large number of imprisoned dissidents in Cuba, Sanders responded, “That’s right, and we condemn that.”
  • When the topic came up at a debate two nights later, Sanders rearticulated his position and added that former President Barack Obama had voiced similar opinions on the topic. Biden took issue with this and said that Obama had condemned the authoritarian regime, while Sanders had not. “Categorically untrue,” Sanders responded. “Cuba, Nicaragua—authoritarianism of any stripe is bad. That is different than saying that governments occasionally do things that are good.”
  • Alan Gross, a U.S. aid worker who was jailed in Cuba for five years, said that Sanders, while visiting him in prison as part of a delegation, remarked, “I don't know what’s so wrong with this country.” Sanders denies Gross’ account.
  • Sanders has repeatedly voiced his and voted in opposition to military interventions, including by the United States in Latin America