Claims about New York Mayor Bill de Blasio – Mostly True!

Claims about New York Mayor Bill de Blasio – Mostly True!

Summary of eRumor:  

A viral email claims that New York Mayor Bill de Blasio helped Marxist soldiers in Central America in the 1980s and returned to America with radical leftist ideals.

The Truth:


This eRumor accurately summarizes many of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s early experiences in politics.

But the mayor now describes himself as a progressive, not a communist, as the eRumor alleges.

The email was taken from an article by Jennifer Kerns that was published by The Blaze, a conservative website, on December 24, 2014.

Much of de Blasio’s early history cited in the eRumor was taken from a New York Times article published in September of 2013. de Blasio’s experiences in Central America in the late 1980s were, “More influential in shaping his ideology than previously known,” and the work he did was more political than humanitarian, the Times reports: 

Mr. de Blasio, who studied Latin American politics at Columbia and was conversational in Spanish, grew to be an admirer of Nicaragua’s ruling Sandinista party, thrusting himself into one of the most polarizing issues in American politics at the time. The Reagan administration denounced the Sandinistas as tyrannical and Communist, while their liberal backers argued that after years of dictatorship, they were building a free society with broad access to education, land and health care.

The Sandinista National Liberation Front (SNLF) was a leftist group that ended nearly 50 years of dictatorship in Nicaragua with a coup in 1979. The U.S. opposed the SNLF and armed and financed the Contras, counter-revolutionary forces based in Honduras, to fight them, according to Encyclopedia Britannica.

The Times reports that de Blasio became an “ardent supporter of the Nicaraguan revolutionaries.” Then, when de Blasio returned to the U.S, he helped raise money for the Sandinistas. In 1990, he described his goals for society as a “democratic socialism.” But de Blasio was later critical of the Sandinistas’ tactics and described more moderate political views:

Now, Mr. de Blasio, a Democrat, describes himself as a progressive. He has campaigned for mayor as a liberal firebrand who would set out to reduce inequality in the city by offering more help to poor families and asking wealthy residents to pay more in taxes. He said that seeing the efforts of the Sandinistas up close strengthened his view that government should protect and enhance the lives of the poor.

“It was very affecting for me,” Mr. de Blasio said of his work with Nicaraguans, in a recent interview. “They were in their own humble way, in this small country, trying to figure out what would work better.” 

The sudden upswing in criticism of de Blasio’s political past can be linked to his response to Eric Garner’s choking death at the hands of a New York police officer. The mayor, whose wife is black, said in a press conference that he has warned his son about interactions with police officers for years: 

“Chirlane and I have had to talk to Dante for years about the dangers that he may face – good young man, law abiding young man, never would think to do anything wrong, and yet because of the history that still hangs over us, the dangers he may face. We’ve had to literally train him, as families have all over this city for decades, in how to take special care in any encounter he has with the police officers who are there to protect him,” de Blasio said.

The mayor’s comments drew criticism from police unions, former New York Governor Rudy Giuliani and conservative groups like The Blaze.