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.

Recent Headlines

3 hours ago in Music

Billy Gibbons starring in reality TV series

billygibbons

The ZZ Top star is headed to TV in a series about restoring classic cars.

4 hours ago in Music, Weird

Lock of John Lennon’s hair could fetch up to $10,000 at auction

johnlennon

Heritage Auctions, which is selling the hair of the late singer, said it was clipped and saved by a hairdresser in Germany in 1966.

4 hours ago in Trending, Viral Videos

TODAY’S MUST SEE: Ben Stiller’s female Viagra ad

12-overlay-6

It was supposed to play during the Super Bowl.

4 hours ago in Weird

Court: Wisconsin couple, too drunk to drive, give keys to 9-year-old

justice

Jason Roth, 36, and Amanda Eggert, 32, pleaded not guilty at the court to charges of recklessly endangering safety and neglecting a child.

21 hours ago in Music

Lemmy to be immortalized outside his favorite bar

lemmy

A fundraising campaign is underway to pay for a life-sized Lemmy statue at the Rainbow Bar & Grill in L.A.