President Obama Shook Raul Castro's Hand: Ten Reactions on What It Means

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During Nelson Mandela's funeral this morning, President Obama shook the hand of Cuban leader Raúl Castro. It's not completely unprecedented. Bill Clinton shook Fidel Castro's hand in New York in 2000. It's still an odd sight.

But what does it mean? Of course, the internet is buzzing with people trying to politically dissect a brief moment of basic manners at a funeral service.

CNN anchor Chris Coumo immediately tried to downplay any significance (which, of course, outraged right-wing site Breitbart.com):

And that handshake obviously was a huge moment. But not to be misunderstood, the handshake with Raul Castro, the president of Cuba, we believe was President Obama showing respect to Nelson Mandela and the occasion of today, the spirit of reconciliation.

Miami-based exile blog Babalu is, of course, disappointed Obama's hand touched Castro's "blood-stained hand":

I had hoped against hope (no pun intended) that Obama would somehow find the courage to fend off his proclivity to act submissive before other world leaders, especially the most despotic ones, but apparently, he simply could not resist. Once again, Obama lends credence and recognition to a vile and bloody dictatorial regime responsible for the murder of tens of thousands of innocent people.

I do not know if there is enough soap or hand sanitizer in the world to wash off the blood Castro left on Obama's hand.

Notorious right-wing blog Hot Air at least tried to empathize with Obama's predicament:

What's the protocol for something like this? You're at the funeral of South Africa's great conciliator. Castro's right in front of you -- and to my eye, it looks like he positioned himself there deliberately to meet O as he was coming down from the podium. Do you stiff-arm him or do you do a five-second heyhowareya and move on?

Cuban blogger Yoani Sanchez notes the government-controlled Cuban TV stations did not broadcast the handshake:

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58 comments
Marjani
Marjani

Who cares? John McCain shook hands with Gaddafi and Nixon shook hands with Fidel Castro. I shook hands with a shitszu puppy. Yada yada 

paul
paul

I don't live in Miami anymore but noticed all the responses to this story.


Must be HUGE news there.


That said, the number of people I came across today who mentioned it would be zero. Zero as in zilch, nada, nobody.


Poor Miami. I love you but sometimes you don't even realize you are in a hermetically sealed bubble with things like this where nobody north of County Line Road has even the slightest interest in it.



Derek Infiesta
Derek Infiesta

Who cares. If he walked by him then what would have happen. News reports possible conflict with Cuba could mean war lol. News people need to get a life.

Rigoberto Munguia
Rigoberto Munguia

Richard Nixon in 1959 make the same:Shake Fidel Castro's hands,after when visit China shake the Mao's hands

Viv Ian
Viv Ian

Oh, WHO CARES???? There must not be much to report on.

AnaCampos
AnaCampos

In response to Obama shaking Raul Castro's hand I feel like also adding this.


Shaking hands is good for everyone and opens the lines of communication with good intentions. There would be less misunderstandings and more positive communication if more people reached out and tried that. When faced with any kind of conflict in life all we can really do is encourage dialogue and hand shakes and hopefully a small conversation and maybe forgiveness. Life is too short to hold on to decades old slights and hurt. It's OK to reach out, and shake hands or hug it out and talk again. It really is and it feels alot better too. 


Communication is really a path to PEACE. Communication is strength and helps resolves conflicts. The conflict will never go away as long as there is no communication or intent to work out disagreements.

Ana Campos
Ana Campos

In response to Obama shaking Raul Castro's hand I feel like also adding this. Shaking hands is good for everyone and opens the lines of communication with good intentions. There would be less misunderstandings and more positive communication if more people reached out and tried that. When faced with any kind of conflict in life all we can really do is encourage dialogue and hand shakes and hopefully a small conversation and maybe forgiveness. Life is too short to hold on to decades old slights and hurt. It's OK to reach out, and shake hands or hug it out and talk again. It really is and it feels alot better too. Communication is really a path to PEACE. Communication is strength and helps resolves conflicts. The conflict will never go away as long as there is no communication or intent to work out disagreements.

Marco Alessio Di Giovanni
Marco Alessio Di Giovanni

Hey, I hate the Castros as much as the next guy (I'm Venezuelan), but some people like Marco Rubio and a bunch of other Cuban exiles who don't remember the Cold War is over seem to forget there's such a thing as "diplomacy"

Lourdes Diaz
Lourdes Diaz

Wow, slow news day. Obama was at an official event with officials from all over the world, many whom the U.S. does not agree with. Is he supposed to not shake hands with everyone? Thats a lot of people. In the meantime, the Right has done ZERO to free Cuba or to curb Communism in Latin America.

nomas_mas
nomas_mas

can we at least pretend it's not 1965 anymore?

Aldo Suarez
Aldo Suarez

Like Obama cares.. Hillary wants to Bitch Slap him.. " are you F! crazy " jajajjajaaja

Mario Francisco Garcia
Mario Francisco Garcia

With all their traveling to Cuba to exchange cheap sneakers, Tommy Hilfiger shirts and jeans for exploitative sex with Cubans, I'm Surprised that Cubans here have the energy to care that much about a handshake.

Linda McCree Diaz
Linda McCree Diaz

What a NON-ISSUE in my mind. R.I.P. Nelson Mandela... a GREAT PEACEMAKER of our time. To Cubans offended, all I can say is THIS FUNERAL WAS NOT ABOUT YOU or your issues. Enough!!!!!

Tamye Hanna
Tamye Hanna

REALLY!!!! Some people have Common Courtesy. I guess they teach that any more.

Michael Bear Arlt
Michael Bear Arlt

Obamas a world leader and is only doing his job. What is he supposed to do, bust Castro in the mouth.

Oscar Vidal
Oscar Vidal

Raul Castro thought he was one of the Temptations

Puppyfood Delivery
Puppyfood Delivery

Well, Lets show the World his True friends that he admired the most....Nothing but World Terrorists..

Betty Perez
Betty Perez

He passed a vial of liquid death to kill Fidel with but Raul decided to kill Oliver Stone instead but confused him with the guy that punched Baron Hilton...

drakemallard
drakemallard topcommenter


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Jainiz Sanchez
Jainiz Sanchez

Ppl! Love each other!! Get over it n discuss more worldly topics. This isn't even an issue. Get over yourselves

Cary Gonzalez
Cary Gonzalez

I can't believe that people are still talking about the biggest myth in Cuban/American history: THE EMBARGO. What embargo would that be??? There are over 130 countries worldwide that do business with Cuba. What embargo?

Octavio Diaz
Octavio Diaz

I think a fist bump would've been way cooler.

Kimberly Lazala
Kimberly Lazala

It's called being polite at a funeral! That simple!!

Ana Campos
Ana Campos

I am happy and glad to see any level of maturity and communication between these two leaders. Handshakes are good. It's grown up stuff not this mamby-pamby let's not discuss the issues stuff. As a Cuban American born in Miami, with a sister and niece I have never met because they are 'stuck' in Cuba, I have a vested interest in that handshake. To put it in perspective Cuba doesn't have child soldiers with AK-47s, genocides, ethnic cleansing, rape policies in favor of the rapists, child labor, government approved gang rapes or honor killings which we should not tolerate anywhere but do and we supply countries like that with money and guns. Cuba Is poor and communist because of Castro and no one else. However as a Cuban Americana I think a handshake is a HUGE breakthrough and I'm glad this happened. I hope it tears down this invisible Cold War wall and embargo so that we can move forward with empathy and in a positive format on this critical issue, as countries and human beings.

Frank Villari
Frank Villari

Eh, he wasn't exactly sure who he was shaking hands with, anyway.

philrincon
philrincon

It's called diplomacy. How can you expect to influence change in Cuba if you don't communicate with your 'foe'? 

James Templeton
James Templeton

Even worst enemies come together when saying last respect

Gabe Yunes
Gabe Yunes

Viejos croqueteros talking shit in 3...2....1....

Jorge Felix Rodriguez II
Jorge Felix Rodriguez II

This is difficult to read. My inner Cuban disapproves of this and hoped for the cold shoulder. However, the human in me feels like setting your political differences aside and paying respect for one of the biggest leaders in civil rights deserves some form of etiquette with others around you. It's a tough decision and it is hard to say what I would do in his shoes. I hope this makes any sense.

D.f. Basora
D.f. Basora

So a spit in the face and a kick to the nuts would have been better? I understand why some would play a bullshit political game here. But why is new times posting this? Gave them more credit

Danny Rodriguez
Danny Rodriguez

People seem to forget that they are at a Funeral, let bygones be bygones. It has nothing to do with dictatorship or war. Anyway who cares theres a plane that leaves miami everyday for Cuba with medicine, money and clothes. yes I know it's for family members that are there, but if they take it way from you at the airport who you think keeps it. Cuban Government

Jason Herrera
Jason Herrera

Bro, he should of given him a hug instead ;)

Bridget Doyle
Bridget Doyle

It's so miami to think this is a "thing" and that he should've been rude, rolled his eyes and sashayed away...ridic.

Dan Marino
Dan Marino

Why aren't the Cubans more angry at how the Cubans treat each other here in Miami and quit worrying about the Castro's! Here is a little hint...THEY WON. Get over it.

Casey C Chu
Casey C Chu

Hopefully, decent cigars and rum in 2014!

Darcy Shepard
Darcy Shepard

Not a damn thing! What the hell else was he supposed to do? Cause an international incident? Or piss off the population of Miami that have no solution to offer in it's stead?

Diego L. Naranjo
Diego L. Naranjo

To snub Raul Castro in a line of dignitaries would have been much worse in my opinion. It would have also been a snub to Nelson Mandela who was being honored at this event.

philrincon
philrincon

Like that Cuban lady in the white pants at the Heat vs Bulls game. lol 

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