The handshake with Obama doesn’t help the Cuban regime. If anything the fact that the US President approached Castro makes it more difficult to paint him as an enemy of the Cuban state. It’s combative hyperbole by US elected leaders that gets the geriatric revolutionaries on high alert, and gives them an villain to rally support against. Case in point, Ileana Ros-Letinen’s tirade during today’s hearing with Secretary of State John Kerry:
Ros-Lehtinen: Mr. Secretary sometimes a handshake is just a handshake but when the leader of the free world shakes the bloody hand of a ruthless dictator like Raul Castro it becomes a propaganda coup for the tyrant. Raul Castro uses that hand to sign the orders to repress and jail democracy advocates. In fact, right now, as we speak, Cuban opposition leaders are being detained and they are being beaten while trying to commemorate today which is International Human Rights Day. They will feel disheartened when they see these photos.
Kerry: Ladies and gentlemen today is about honoring Nelson Mandela. And the president is at an international funeral with leaders from all over the world. He didn’t choose who is there. They are there to honor Mandela. We appreciate that people from all over the world and from all different beliefs and walks of life who appreciated Nelson Mandela and/or were friends of his came to honor him. And I think as the president said – I urge you to go read his speech or if you didn’t see it or haven’t read it – as the president said in his speech today honoring nelson Mandela he said `we urge leaders to honor Mandela’s struggle for freedom by upholding the basic human rights of their people.
Ros-Lehtinen: And would you say Raul castro is upholding the basic human rights…
Kerry: No, absolutely not. And you know my position on that.