PANAMA—This weekend, President Obama attended a summit of leaders from all over the Americas, and, for the first time in decades, Cuban president Raul Castro was also present. Despite both sides’ professed desire to end the Cold War-era policies that have plagued US-Cuba relations over the past 50 years, the diplomatic atmosphere remains awkward.
The two leaders are expected to meet on Saturday to discuss restoring diplomatic and economic ties, but according to a washroom attendant who preferred to remain nameless, the two men have already shared a chance encounter in the early days of the summit.
On Friday afternoon, Castro took a trip to the restroom after eating some suspicious cheese given to him by the President of Peru. Shortly thereafter President Obama visited the same bathroom to clean some spilled ceviche off his tie. Seeing that Castro was using the lone urinal in the bathroom, Obama was forced to use the stall, a move which some Republican senators are criticizing as a clear power shift. The two leaders arrived at the sink at the exact same time, and both promptly pretended not to notice the other out of the corner of their eyes. The situation only worsened when it became plain that Castro had not used soap in washing his hands, spelling a problem for the handshake that was sure to come.
According to the source, Mr. Obama cleared his throat without looking at Castro, and proceeded towards the door. The awkward encounter reached a climax when both men reached for the same hand towel, forcing them to each confront the other’s existence. Presidents Obama and Castro stepped back to allow the other to grab the towel, and when neither went for it, they both left the bathroom with wet hands.