Obama Criticized for Handshake With Raul Castro

The president’s greeting to Cuban leader riles congressional leaders back home.
3:00 | 12/10/13

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Transcript for Obama Criticized for Handshake With Raul Castro
This is a special. Hi everyone I'm Devin Dwyer Washington this is an ABC news digital special report it's the handshake seen round the world Nelson Mandela's example. Of uniting rivals evident today -- historic gesture. There and it in Johannesburg is President Obama stopped to shake the hand of Cuban president Raul Castro. Just as he was about to take the stage to give his speech it's the second green of its kind since Fidel Castro seize power. Ousting the US backed government back in 1959. A pretty significant moment. Here to discuss the implications of today's exchanges fusion. Tanker of America. With Jorge Ramos anchor Jorge Ramos Jorge think you so much for being here give us your analysis of this moment is this just a blip on the radar could this be an opening. To something bigger for the US and Cuba. -- -- -- Since -- it's significant. The important thing is that we've never seen it before we know that -- pressed -- Bill Clinton. In the year 2000 that a key issue of the handles Putin got -- you what's -- the United Nations we know that because Madeline Albright the then secretary of state. Told us about that he was about two minutes Cindy's case at -- but there was no picture and Obey your back and now the difference is that we know that it happened to -- between the press from Barack Obama and -- don't gusto and I'm sending a dictator because -- -- -- mean. The customs they've been in power since -- 1959. What's interesting is that in the spirit of Nelson Mandela. In which he is suggesting all of us that we have to make peace with our enemies. People might suggest that -- maybe it's that time for the US to start a new relationship with Cuba but that's not really going to be that EC. There's a US embargo it was he started in 1960 and then -- what's codified into law. In 1993 that means that. Even if Barack Obama wanted to start and -- a new relationship with Cuba it is impossible without the approval of the congress so yes it's significant we sought for the first time. He's a US president with a Cuban dictator. But I don't think nothing's gonna change. Not only because of the congress but they're -- US contractor that's been arrested in -- -- About three years several and on this -- changes. And the congress goes along nothing's going to change. Between both countries. If it even in spite of that Jorge his you've reported on many times there is something -- -- -- -- -- had been under that Obama administration with Cuba some restrictions have been eased. Congress as you say one sticking point but. I also understand there's some politics here right -- -- particularly politics in Florida -- Miami. That did this kind of preventing congress from acting on this right. -- absolutely. I mean I don't see any. Proposal right now in congress to change the embargo. And -- faster dual. Not only with the with the US -- with Alan Ross but also without fact that. But always very clear in 1993 -- -- cities that one lives we seem. A couple of changes in true -- Democrats -- -- Cuba and more respect two. Human rights nothing's gonna change -- on on the site now on on the other hand yes there are some changes minor changes. Just until a few months ago you what's impossible for Cuba -- -- I don't know they can leave the island as long as they can get -- -- from other countries so that's a change. On the other hand there are no political parties. Only up two men have been in control of that country for. 55 years -- that -- first and then. Just as if it was a family affair he handed down power to his brother well we're so that's what we see right now in Cuba. Cuban American politicians that very rarely. Are open to the possibility -- lifting the embargo. So I don't I don't see any change is neither here in Miami ignoring congress how -- again going back to the -- of Nelson Mandela you make peace with your enemies. Many people here in the United States thing that -- -- our enemy. And in May be these will create all -- opportunities not only between. Cuba and the US may be between Israel and the Palestinians may be -- -- Colombia U which the government is negotiating a peace agreement with the guerrilla members -- laden. Yet may be Mandela is changing something I don't see it that he's in for is gonna go as far as change in US Cuba relations. And one of those politicians that perhaps a standing in the way of of the continued -- is a person you've interviewed many times. Florida senator Marco Rubio himself a Cuban American a Republican says. He put out a statement today says his issue was less with a handshake -- with current US policy on Cuba and President Obama specifically. Not challenging Castro -- does he have a point there and to -- does he have a pretty big following what's your sense. Well I mean. He chelation that customer right now. Despite. The fact that we've been enemies having Cuba and the -- -- for so many years. Us for us I understand. Q why is not really a national security threat to the United States this point what what's interesting is that. The United States has these I would say -- -- We the other dictatorships we have a perfect commercial relationship frayed relationship with -- with China of course is a dictatorship and how Weber is not exactly the same way that we have with Cuba -- Husted to a lot -- With the wave. The Cuban American community -- -- especially acute American politicians top shape yet the embargo solo home. I'd -- -- the Cuban government Ryan Ellis a threat and but again I don't see. Any possibility of -- right now between both countries. And that you make a great point that this relationship is so complex its economic. It's political. And as such had a long history of animosity bids between the two sides -- second go away quickly. Let's talk a little bit about. Castro's relationship with Mandela I think -- side note to all the goings on today in South Africa what can you tell us about their relationship and and how they related with with the government how well how Mandela related -- the Cuban government. In and it's also about the way -- -- Mandela's image has she been changed you even within the United States. When of your to run above dot famous picture between -- -- are Nelson Mandela we're talking about two leftist politicians that there's no question about it. Mandela -- also. -- leftist and socialist influence and and that's just simply part of history so -- one point. Com. -- -- and Fidel Castro where more on the the same ideological -- in up. Then and even with US -- we we have to remember the Nelson Mandela criticized for instance. Though the war against Iraq he was very clear. -- -- yet document criticized the president endorsed the blue bush. And -- Great Britain for him starting the war against Iraq and -- having. A position against this country so it -- in many ways in any sum and internationally -- -- Monday -- -- Castro work closer. Then Mandela and the United States now if you allow me let me just go back to two to the fact that. Dash -- between president Barack Obama and -- gusto. Might be interpreted as a possibility for -- diplomacy. But Barack Obama -- these though before us president who might have tried that. The Bill Clinton had the opportunity to talk with him last week and I was just you mean OK so he we have these very special trade relationship -- China. Which is a dictatorship wide beating you tried the same with Cuba and a he told -- something that that's reprise responded that he did -- That he did try to establish a new relationship with Cuba but then we have to remember that in ninth united six. And Cuba. Attacked tool -- from mom -- organization called Brothers to the rescue killing. Four of their occupants so even though. -- can be beat back then that he was that time. If not precisely to lift the embargo to start a new relationship because of that attacked and nothing nothing came out of tech came out of it. And yet this president -- President Obama. To your point -- is kind of picked up that mantle and made it something -- the signature of his administration really to reach out to some of these long standing nemesis right I mean in 2009 shook the hand of Hugo Chavez. Just a few months ago he placed a phone call to -- -- -- rents new president for a Hani. And now this today something he's made it something of a signature red of his foreign policy. -- I had a different good everywhere you mean it's and is not only did that is the possibility. -- of diplomacy against war. -- -- President Barack Obama came to pot which he came into power with a promise. That he was not going to be like president -- -- proportions in the sense that he was not gonna start another war. So keep -- she has tried diplomacy in the case of Syria he has tried diplomacy. Indicate indicates over Iran and -- is the possibility. -- -- may be because of a handshake. That. He might be interested in starting new relations. -- that we Cuba but again I would. I would caution. That it is not going to be that -- I mean -- long there are so. An American citizen detained and jailed in Cuba -- Ross and that hasn't changed in the last three years and has no love that they're -- law. Codified into law in -- -- three. In which. The embargo can't be lifted by the -- -- -- has to be elected we the approval of the president of course but also the congress nothing's gonna change. All right I want to ask you before we let you go Jorge that's -- to hit a handshake between the two men certainly one of the awkward moments today on the stage there in Johannesburg but there was another handshake. Very interest -- after President Obama shook the hand. -- Castro he faced Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff of course there's been. Longstanding tension now for the past few months between those two leaders and give us your -- your take on that exchange and any headlines that your -- in South America today. Yes but let's just put in perspective what but I happen to -- that. -- -- of the president Oprah Show she was supposed to come to the United States -- few months ago. And then. We got all of these -- a -- out. Moves that -- say it was spying on. President himself cell phone. The president of Mexico among among many other supposedly. And then -- self believe that both reports were strong enough solid enough -- she decided to -- a visa to the United States. So lump she complained to the American ambassador in Britain -- -- And -- -- -- she she came to the United States and had a meeting with. We're there for us from Barack Obama what what's interesting is that meeting them again it says a new chance. For president receptive to a home. To talk directed to -- Barack Obama is simply asking him why it. He's your government is spying on me and NBC's. Brazilians of the Mexican government among many other governments Germany or drop us an example. Our -- being complain -- about this. And it to injuries. It has created a lot of tension they US the president has to explain you've -- happened. In an interview with fusion a -- moved a few weeks ago -- Brooke -- don't want to talk about that however. It is not -- when you're meeting her head of state in -- Clinton in these days that. The president of Ross still in you up to explain to -- why the governance find her -- it was he was an awkward moment. It's doubly awkward moment there on the stage today -- before we let you go thank you so much for -- analysis. What's coming up tonight we love your show America and -- -- 8 o'clock eastern 5 Pacific in the city's. Thank you while today obviously we're going to be talking about Nelson Mandela but. I mean we. We always want to give you something that you might not be able to get in any other network. So today we -- into with the -- -- -- order what is you know two -- what do what will become the first country in the whole world. That would legalize. The use production. Of and end of my you want to sow love where hot and into -- Bustamante -- She's she's telling -- that it's an experiment that if you don't don't work well it doesn't work. But that. That we just gotta try something different of the war on drugs but everyone's. He's failing on the war on -- studies -- working that 70000 people were killed in Mexico for instance because of the war and rocks. Last year so -- -- trying something completely different so which it would talk to him. And -- let's see what happens -- -- or why he's right. In other countries goal. Go along then maybe this is that this is the future. -- should be a fascinating show few -- Jorge Ramos thank you so much you according to thank you for being here you can follow. Jorge on fusion every night it's going to be at 8 eastern 5 PM Pacific if you don't. Get fusion make sure to call your cable company get it out -- here listing. For now thank you so much for watching us this has been an ABC news digital special report on Devin Dwyer and Washington.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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