Obama & Raul Castro Shake Hands

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

U.S. President Barack Obama (L) shakes hands with Cuban President Raul Castro during the official memorial service for former South African President Nelson Mandela at FNB Stadium December 10, 2013. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

It was a historic coming together—over 60 heads of state gathered in one place to honor the life of former South African President Nelson Mandela. Today’s memorial in Johannesburg will also be remembered for an unlikely exchange between President Obama and his Cuban counterpart.

Call it the handshake heard around the world, Raúl Castro was one of the many attending to pay their respects. The U.S. President had a kiss for Brazil’s President Dilma Rousseff and a hug for U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon.

For the President of Cuba? A handshake.

The cold war history of strained relations between the U.S. and Cuba remains potent more than half a century after Raúl’s brother Fidel seized power.

Many conservatives in the U.S. reacted quickly and harshly to the handshake. Speaking to the Takeaway's Washington Correspondent Todd Zwillich, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) likened the exchange to a previous meeting between Neville Chamberlain & Adolf Hitler.

"Why should you shake hands with someone who is keeping Americans in prison?" asked Sen. McCain.


T.J. Raphael


Todd Zwillich

Comments [3]


Most people are not rude, and I noticed that Mr. Castro bowed first. Therefore he has good manners. It would be rude to snub him. I doubt if good manners has ever harmed anyone, but being rude can become an ugly way of life.

Dec. 12 2013 08:48 AM
carl from queens

The last time I checked it still don't cost anything to be nice.

Dec. 11 2013 08:47 AM

This is only exciting for lefties. Republicans expect nothing less from Obama and are only surprised he did not hug him also.

Dec. 10 2013 04:57 PM

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