News

Obama, Castro shake hands; world says farewell to Mandela

Obama, Castro shake hands; world says farewell to Mandela

MANDELA REMEMBERED: U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the crowd during a memorial service for Nelson Mandela at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa Dec. 10. Photo: Reuters

By Stella Mapenzauswa and David Dolan

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama shook the hand of Cuban President Raul Castro at a memorial for Nelson Mandela on Tuesday, a rare gesture between the leaders of two nations at loggerheads for more than half a century.

With Mandela’s message of reconciliation hanging over the ceremony, Castro smiled as Obama shook his hand on the way to the podium to make a rousing speech in memory of the former South African president, one of the world’s greatest peacemakers, who died on Thursday aged 95.

Tens of thousands of singing and dancing mourners braved hours of torrential rain at Johannesburg’s Soccer City as 90-odd world dignitaries filed into the stadium.

The crowd emitted a huge roar as Obama took his seat, in marked contrast to the boos that greeted South African President Jacob Zuma, a scandal-plagued leader whose weaknesses have been cast into sharp relief by Mandela’s death.

EXTRA: Nelson Mandela dead at 95 | South Carolina sheriff refuses to lower flag for Mandela

Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe also received wide applause.

Obama chided leaders who were quick to claim solidarity with Mandela’s struggle with oppression and injustice, but did not allow freedom in their own countries.

“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,” he said.

EXTRA: South Africans mourn Mandela with praise, prayer

“There are too many leaders who claim solidarity with Madiba’s struggle for freedom, but do not tolerate dissent from their own people,” he said.

Relations between Cuba and the United States have been frozen since soon after Cuba’s 1959 revolution led by Raul’s brother Fidel Castro, and Washington has maintained economic sanctions on the communist-ruled island for more than half a century.

Latest Stories

2 hours ago in Entertainment

REVIEW: In-fighting is entertaining in ‘Captain America: Civil War’

Fresh
13-overlay

"Civil War" stands out as certainly the biggest of the stand-alones, and among the best because of what it has in common with the better films in the Marvel universe: the conflict is deeply human, told humorously, and best enjoyed if you don't overthink it.

4 hours ago in Viral Videos

This ‘Game of Thrones’ inspired Mother’s Day gift is sure to be a hit

24-overlay-1

Still looking for a last minute gift for mom? Jimmy Kimmel has got you covered.

4 hours ago in National

Trump looks to unify Republicans; Kasich reported dropping out

17-overlay

Billionaire Donald Trump assumed the mantle of presumptive Republican presidential nominee on Wednesday with a message on unity that also suggested he was not going to work too hard to placate some party establishment figures angered by his outsider candidacy.