Obama, Raul Castro shake hands; ignite both hope and anger
Tuesday, December 10, 2013 - 02:25
Dec. 10 - U.S. President Barack Obama's handshake with Cuban President Raul Castro yields mixed reactions in Havana, Miami and a terse exchange on Capitol Hill. Deborah Gembara reports.
▲ Hide Transcript
▶ View Transcript
It was a small gesture -- a handshake between U.S. President Barack Obama and President Raul Castro that had people talking in Cuba.
SOUNDBITE: HAVANA RESIDENT JORGE ALERT SAYING (SPANISH):
"I think it is very good. It seems to be very good news." (Hopefully) it will open the possibilities for better relations. I think it is very very good."
SOUNDBITE: HAVANA RESIDENT HORTENSIA OJEDA SAYING (SPANISH):
"A dialogue can exist. Many things can exist. I think that would be the best thing for both countries, not just Cuba."
Some in Miami's Little Havana neighborhood were less enthusiastic.
SOUNDBITE: MIGUEL SAAVEDRA, PRESIDENT OF HUMAN RIGHTS ORGANIZATION VIGILIA MAMBISA SAYING (SPANISH):
"What needs to be done is condemn terrorist countries like Cuba not be their friend. President Obama is breaking from the politics of the U.S. which states we don't negotiate, we don't associate, we don't participate with terrorist countries."
SOUNDBITE: SERGIO RIO SECO, A CUBAN WHO HAS BEEN LIVING IN MIAMI FOR 23 YEARS SAYING (SPANISH):
"It's a total handover. The courageous Cubans who have fought for one hundred 54 years. We are seeing our plans betrayed by those who are supposed to be our friends."
On Capitol Hill, Secretary of State John Kerry was asked about the handshake.
SOUNDBITE: U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN KERRY SAYING:
"The President's at an international funeral with the leaders from all over the world. He didn't choose who's there. They're there to honor Mandela. He said, we urge leaders to honor Mandela's struggle for freedom by upholding the basic human rights of their people."
(CONGRESSWOMAN OFF CAMERA): And would you say Raul Castro is upholding basic human rights?
KERRY: "No. Absolutely not."
The moment -- between the two leaders whose nations have been at odds for more then half a century, came as Obama was making his way to the podium at Nelson Mandela's memorial service.
Reconciliation -- a major theme for the famed peacemaker, was used to inspire, and chide.
SOUNDBITE: U.S. PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA SAYING:
"There are too many of us who happily embrace Madiba's legacy of racial reconciliation, but passionately resist even modest reforms that would challenge chronic poverty and growing inequality."
The pointed words did little however to douse hopes that the five second exchange could open the door to warmer relations --- and a possible end to U.S. sanctions against Cuba.
SOUNDBITE: HAVANA RESIDENT YASNIEL SOTO SAYING:
"I think it is a good thing that the ties begin to extend towards that day that the blockade ends with the United States, which has nothing to do with the direction, with the President and what the people in the U.S. think about us."
Press CTRL+C (Windows), CMD+C (Mac), or long-press the URL below on your mobile device to copy the code