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

in Entertainment

‘Empire’ creators face lawsuit over Cookie

Fresh
empire

Sophia Eggleston, of Detroit, Michigan has filed a $300 million lawsuit claiming the show's central character Cookie, played by Taraji P. Henson, is so similar to her that creator Lee Daniels must have used her as his muse.

in Entertainment

Robert Downey, Jr. is laughing all the way to the bank

robertdowney

The "Iron Man" star is once again Hollywood's highest paid man.

in Music

Original AC/DC frontman to write tell-all

18-overlay3

Dave Evans, who was eventually replaced by Bon Scott, is planning a book about his time in the music business.

in Entertainment

‘Dungeons & Dragons’ coming to the big screen

dungeonsanddragons

Warner Brothers says the popular fantasy role-playing game is being converted into a feature film.

in Entertainment

Love is not dead: Will and Jada aren’t divorcing

23-overlay

"Men in Black" star Will Smith took the unusual step of publicly shooting down a report that he and his actress wife of 17 years had decided to divorce.