De Blasio has stood by his support for the Sandinistas, but he hadn't gone into particular depth about it until today, at an appearance with fire union leader Steve Cassidy, who had just endorsed him.
"A lot of us in this country believe that the United States policies towards Central America in the 1980s were wrong," said de Blasio. "By the way, the organization I worked with was founded by Jesuits. As you may know, a lot of the work being done on the ground to help needy people in Central America was done by leaders in the Catholic Church, it was done by nuns. And the sense of injustice that was so obvious in terms of United States policies supporting regimes that were in many cases very unfair to their own people. That’s why I got involved because I thought our policies were wrong."
"The organization I worked with that is talked about in that article literally collected medical supplies, clothing, and sent it to a non-profit in Nicaragua to get it to needy people who were obviously affected by the environment of war surrounding their country that was being supported by the U.S. government," he continued. "So, I think it was the right thing to do. I am very proud of that work. And by the way, over time, the majority of the United States people came to believe that our policies were wrong and that finally is what changed our policies."
Given his activism on the Nicaragua issue, his welcoming of Robert Mugabe to City Hall back in 2002 (something he has since apologized for) and his participation in a recent press conference denouncing Iran, I asked him what role he thinks the mayor of New York City should play in foreign policy debates.
"I think we are an international city by definition, and the most diverse, or one of the most diverse, cities on earth," he said. "The United Nations happens to be located here. There’s a lot of reasons why it’s natural, but it pales in comparison to the work we have to do here at home in our neighborhoods. So from time to time it will be pertinent, especially during U.N. week for example. But no, I think the singular focus of the next mayor has to be to addressing inequalities of the city and that goes right down to the grassroots, neighborhood by neighborhood."
That's a good response from de Blasio.
Frankly, it should have come yesterday, but I'll take it today too.
For two days the de Blasio campaign has been off message while the Lhota campaign and the three corporatist newspapers in this city hammered him as "Sandanista Bill."
This explanation should put the whole Nicaragua thing to rest.
If I were de Blasio, I might have added one thing:
I was bringing food, clothing and medical aid to people suffering while the CIA and Reagan administration were bringing guns and other weapons to murder people.
Which side would you have been on?
I think I was on the right side.
Which side do you think Joe Lhota would have helped?