Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Handshake

Click image to enlarge.

President Obama shook hands today with Cuban President Raul Castro at the memorial service in South Africa for the late Nelson Mandela.

Reaction was swift and predictable.

Minutes after the photo of the handshake was flashed worldwide, Univision anchor Jorge Ramos tweeted this: "Question: Has there been a U.S. President who has greeted Fidel or Raul Castro since l959?"

There answer is yes. Clinton shook hands with Fidel at the United Nations in 2000.

One Miami TV station sent a reporter to the Versailles, where he went to work rounding up the usual suspects.

And Cuban-American lawmakers in Washington reacted swiftly, too. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen said this of the handshake: "Blah-blah-blah-blah-blah-blah-blah."

And, over at el Nuevo Herald's website, the story of The Handshake of the Century has generated over 170 comments...most of them in this vein: "There are those who voted for Barack Obama. Now, the golden boy gives them a kick in the face and greets the tyrant with a brazen smile. Congratulations!"

I was all set to ignore reading anything further on The Handshake until one of my Facebook friends, Andy Diaz, took a shot at those who were using it to float some ridiculous conspiracy theories:

After Diaz - a Cuban-born, Miami-raised, management consultant living in Washington DC - posted that, a lively discussion ensued.

And then he posted this, which I think cuts right to the chase rather nicely:
I have friends and relatives who suffered under the Castro regime. I also count myself in that group since I was born and raised in Cuba, and felt and saw the oppression every single day of my life. So let's ease off on the sanctimony, shall we?

The president of the United States doesn't play juvenile games with dictators, and pretend not to see them, or ignore them on purpose. That is childish.
The image of today was absolutely perfect. A young, energetic American president facing a Cold War dinosaur who looks like a tiny old hag and couldn't help but come off looking starstruck and weak--some strongman. [Emphasis mine.] 
By the way, Obama himself is the perfect argument against the Castros' persistent argument that black men have no future in the United States. As it turns out, their future is far brighter than it is in Cuba, where the same cadre of white dudes has ruled for almost 60 years. 
And also, if today was a victory for the Castros, how come the images haven't been shown on Cuban TV?

Any questions?

Fidel Castro shaking hands with Vice-President 
Richard Nixon during a press reception 
in Washington in 1959.

Miami Herald: Cuba-U.S. handshake — 13 years in the making

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