Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif.) is reputed to be among former vice president Joe Biden’s final choices to become his running mate. Her apparent lifelong fascination with Cuba’s Communist dictatorship should disqualify her from that honor.

In her youth, Bass was involved with a group called the Venceremos Brigade. The group, which still operates, has for decades brought American leftists to Cuba to visit and work on projects sponsored by the totalitarian government. The exact extent of her involvement is disputed: A communist newspaper from 1975 suggests she was a leader and organizer in her native Southern California while Bass herself has played down any leadership role but acknowledged multiple visits to Cuba with the Brigade to “build houses." Regardless, it’s clear that Bass was involved with an enterprise that had a goal of encouraging the health and survival of a despotic, evil regime.

It strains credulity to believe Bass didn’t know what she signed up for. “Venceremos” means “we shall triumph” in Spanish and has been a frequent word used by Communists in the Spanish world to describe their struggle. At a time when the United States actively opposed and embargoed the Communist island, it was clear to anyone with eyes whom the struggle was against and whose defeat such “triumph” would entail. Cuban dictator Fidel Castro frequently used the word in describing his purported struggle. He ended his speeches with “Patria o muerte! Venceremos!” (“Fatherland or death! We shall triumph!”) in an attempt to draw Cubans to back “the Revolution.” Even today, the Brigade extols the idea of “showing solidarity with the Cuban Revolution.”

It’s worth recounting what Castro’s Cuba was and is. It is a one-party dictatorship without freedom of speech or freedom of the press. Castro murdered thousands — some say tens of thousands — of potential political opponents after he took power. Tens of thousands more were jailed as political prisoners, and repression was so great that hundreds of thousands fled to the United States. Bass would have known all of this in the 1970s when she was active; unlike with the early days of the Soviet Union, Castro’s evil was always well known to the outside world. Yet she chose to aid a regime whose declared goal was victory over her own country.

Nor, it seems, has she completely lost the revolutionary ardor of her youth. When Castro died in 2016, she offered her condolences: “The passing of the Comandante en Jefe is a great loss to the people of Cuba” she said, using the Spanish term of endearment that Communists have long used for him.

Bass later expressed regret for the statement, saying “If I had to make that statement over again, I wouldn’t use those words.” She also said in an interview on Sunday that her views have “developed over time” and that she now understands Castro’s Cuba was a brutal regime. Hello! This should have been obvious all along. The Post’s obituary for Castro delineated his many repressive acts, saying that “Mr. Castro’s Cuba remained a place of repression and fear.” Are we to accept that her views have “developed” since Castro’s death in 2016, when she was a 63-year-old woman who had already been speaker of the California Assembly and was in her third congressional term?

It’s impossible to imagine a conservative with a similar history receiving serious consideration from a presumptive Republican presidential nominee. Suppose a GOP congressperson, now in their mid-60s, actively supported and traveled to South Africa in their youth in support of the vicious apartheid regime in the 1970s. Suppose further that this mythical person had issued a statement on the death of former prime minister and president P.W. Botha, who remained an opponent of multiracial democracy to his death, using his affectionate nickname “Die Groot Krokodil” — Afrikaans for “the Great Crocodile.” That person would never come anywhere close to being the vice president, and rightfully so. Bass’s views should be no less disqualifying.

Biden says he wants to “restore the soul of our nation.” The content of that soul is expressed in the words of Jefferson and Lincoln. According to them, the United States is a nation founded on the “unalienable rights” of “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness” and “conceived in Liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” Biden cannot restore our soul by putting someone a heartbeat away from the presidency who only recently discovered that Castro is the antithesis of this philosophy.

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