Obama-Castro Greeting Sparks Debate Among Cuban-American Groups

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A simple handshake between U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban leader Raúl Castro during a memorial service for Nelson Mandela in Johannesburg, South Africa, has sparked a debate over whether or not it signals a thaw between the two Cold War adversaries, if relations should be getting better and, of course, furor among Cuban-American exile groups.

 

The brief encounter occurred when Obama was greeting everyone in a line of world leaders before delivering his own tribute to the former South African president, in which he urged a new generation to embrace Mandela's life work as their own.

 

More than half a century after the U.S. cut off diplomatic relations with Cuba, such exchanges between American and Cuban leaders are exceedingly rare. U.S. officials often have gone to great lengths to avoid having sitting presidents meet Cuban leaders, even in passing.

 

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