Yesterday in Panama City, United States President Barack Obama and Cuban leader Raul Castro shook hands as the world watched. We now wait for their historic and much-anticipated meeting today.
This is the two leader’s first encounter since 2013 and they are set to meet this weekend to discuss the restoration of diplomatic ties between the United States and Cuba.
At the historic summit of the Americas, the two shook hands, and the world watched.
“At the Summit of the Americas this evening, President Obama and President Castro greeted each other and shook hands.” ~ Bernadette Meehan, National Security Council spokeswoman
This comes after this week when President Obama said, “We will continue to have differences with the Cuban government, but we don’t want to be imprisoned by the past.”
This handshake has made waves, through Latin American, and citizens are looking to President Obama to rectify both icy and hot relationships with this Cuba. Distrust of the United States runs deep in Latin America because of United States sponsorship of coups, militant regimes and dictatorships.
President Nicholas Maduro, of Venezuela, has been increasing his rhetoric about the United States leading up to the summit, stating, “Never again a U.S. invasion in Latin American.” and visiting the memorial of those killed by the 1989 invasion of Panama was perceived as a symbolic jab at the United States. Maduro, during this tour had crowds of hundreds chanting, “Maduro, stick it to the Yankee!.”
So what’s in a handshake? Given the past wrongs as perceived by the citizens of Latin America, how much good can a handshake do? It seems like a lot.
Social media has been abuzz of the United State’s willingness to thaw relations with Cuba and make meaningful gestures in rectifying the past and moving forward into a future where the relationship is less patriarchal. In the gesture of a handshake, on the world stage, Latin America saw President Obama’s efforts towards diplomacy.
This was truly the handshake seen and felt around the world, but most acutely in Latin America where resentment toward the United States still runs deep as seen in the recent demonstrations in support of President Maduro Panama City.
In this handshake, the world watched as more evolved world leaders, the two Presidents of the United States and Cuba, seemed ready to began the thaw of diplomatic relations.
Author: Katie Schellenberg
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock
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