international intrigue

Obama and Castro Shake Hands at Mandela Memorial, End of Cold War in Sight

President Obama shook Cuban president Raúl Castro’s hand as he approached the podium at the Johannesburg memorial service for Nelson Mandela this morning. It was a stark departure from the standard protocol for American presidents, which consists of reaching your hand out to the Cuban president, pulling it away at the last moment, and telling him “too slow” before walking away. 

Obama’s gesture of friendship was not totally unprecedented, however: In September of 2000, Bill Clinton shook hands with then-president Fidel Castro at the U.N., a moment that Secretary of State Madeleine Albright proudly referred to as “a chance encounter” with “no substance.”

It’s not clear what President Obama and Raúl Castro said to each other, but Castro was beaming afterward, so Obama probably gave him Florida. 

It’s also possible that “Raúl Castro” is actually the toy-store owner from Home Alone 2, and everyone is blowing this way out of proportion.

Obama and Castro Shake Hands at Mandela Memorial