Obama Shakes Raul Castro's Hand, Ignites Rage in Some Cuban-Americans

By: Nancy Smith | Posted: December 10, 2013 11:15 AM
Barack Obama and Raul Castro

Barack Obama and Raul Castro

President Barack Obama's decision during Nelson Mandela's memorial service Tuesday to shake hands with Cuban President Raul Castro struck an immediate, sharp blow to some Cuban-Americans in Miami watching the service on television.

"What is our president doing making nice to the head of a Communist nation that keeps an innocent American in prison in Cuba?" Lionny Suarez asked during a telephone conversation with Sunshine State News.

Suarez, owner of a Dade City print shop, had gathered early Tuesday with friends to watch the event.

"There is no humanity in the Castros," said Suarez, 62. "They are all about ideologies, they don't change. I wanted to see my president snub him."

"Do you see how naive Obama is?" asks Suarez's friend, Carlos Montes, 58. "He makes me afraid. He would be willing to talk to our enemies without asking about the wisdom of it."

Said Miami beautician Ana Lapida, "I'm sad for the family of Alan Gross to see their president do this."

The United States government has been calling for the release of American Alan Gross, imprisoned in Cuba for four years. Gross, a 64-year-old husband and father, was sentenced to 15 years in prison for facilitating uncensored Internet contact between a Cuban religious community and the rest of the world.

Obama had offered his hand to Castro before taking the stage to speak at the ceremony. Making his way to the podium, he also shook hands with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, who earlier this year cancelled a state visit to Washington over concerns about alleged spying by the U.S.

The United States maintains a five-decades-old embargo against Cuba, which Havana claims has so far cost the economy $1.1 trillion.

Seen by millions as they watched the memorial being broadcast live around the world, the surprise handshake was saluted in Havana as a hopeful sign.

Government website Cubadebate.cu ran a photograph of the moment with the caption: "Obama greets Raul: may this image be the beginning of the end of the US aggressions against Cuba."

In 2011 Obama eased restrictions on visas, remittances and travel.

Talks are under way to resume a direct postal service between the two countries.

The Cuban Americans who gathered in Miami, in spite of their anger over the presidential handshake, acknowledged Obama's speech eulogizing Mandela was inspiring. Read the full text here.

Reach Nancy Smith at nsmith@sunshinestatenews.com or at 228-282-2423.

Comments (10)

10:38AM DEC 11TH 2013
Being courteous is a way to open dialogue. Snubbing is juvenile and leads to further discord. We all know that from our personal lives and to want our President to be rude in such a public arena is misguided.
10:09PM DEC 10TH 2013
When you are President, and attend a gathering with other heads of state, it is expected that you will interact with them. In a few years, there will be new, younger leadership in Cuba, and change will happen. Raul Castro has done a lot, considering his age, and he doesn't get much credit.
people should see a lot more
4:23PM DEC 10TH 2013
Why wouldn't he they are both communist comrades as is Bill and Hitlery. Bill the Rhodes Scholar went to Moscow to avoid the draft.

Where was everyone when Obama sent Putin the message on open mike that "I will have more flexibility after the election."

Well it's after the election and Obummer just bought ONE BILLION DOLLARS worth of Helicopters from Russia to use to guard the poppie fields in Afghanistan.

Obama was indoctrinated by Frank Marshal Davis, Vernon Garrett and now has Valerie Garrett as his senior advisor, not to mention the communist David axelrod, But Cuban Americans have a problem with Obama shaking the hand of their anointed dictator Raul Castro brother of Fidel Castro!

No wonder the cabal spend so much time endorsing and espanding diversity. If the American people were united as one and had any brains the majority of them would see a hell of a lot wrong with all the hands Obama shakes as well as the hands that are pulling his strings and feeding his teleprompter.
2:51PM DEC 10TH 2013
allowing the anger of a few Cuban Americans in south fl to make policy is silly. we should have turned capitalism lose on the castro's yrs ago and they would no longer exist. this is just another nancy smith hit piece.
2:36PM DEC 10TH 2013
I wonder if Lionny Suarez's convictions go deeper than his wallet or his love of Cuba. It would be interesting to see if he has any problem buying goods from Communist China or hiring Mexican guestworkers, legal or otherwise. (Lots of innocent Americans locked up there.)
Lionny R. Suarez
4:31PM DEC 10TH 2013
you are as insulting as you are preposterous. I would like US to embargo china too but we don't. I don't like abuses of human rights anywhere. if it makes you feel better to belittle a Cuban American who has suffered thru the castro regime, so be it.
10:22PM DEC 10TH 2013
I wasn't belittling you. Just wondering how deep your convictions are. (Putting Cuban before American in your title brings out the cynic in me.)

But tell me America comes first and you boycott buying any goods from China and you don't hire illegal immigrants or guestworkers from Mexico and I'll give you the benefit of a doubt.
Lionny R. Suarez
9:52AM DEC 11TH 2013
I don't have to prove to you I am a good American who loves my country. you make me cry to say that. I don't hire guest workers or immigrants. I buy Chinese because most of the time i cant find anthing from somewhere else to buy.
2:11PM DEC 10TH 2013
Our President is correct in showing the world the right way to act. The way to change what is happening in Cuba is through intelligent, meaningful dialogue with the hopes this regime gets the message or realizes that they may lose their power to a better leaders, one who treat all people with dignity and respect. And believe me, President Obama did give Osama Bin Laden a chance and then, he obiterated him.
1:04PM DEC 10TH 2013
And he bowed to him....what a disgrace.

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