Johannesburg, South Africa – Forget the “selfie” that U.S. President Barack Obama took with Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt and British Prime Minister David Cameron during the memorial celebration for the late Nelson Mandela. The international community was forgiving of that incident, especially because the word “selfie” was just named word of the year by the Oxford English Dictionary.
The bigger controversy – and what really upset Michelle Obama – was the President shaking the hand of Cuban President Raul Castro. It had nothing to do with a U.S. President shaking the hand of a communist head of state. Rather it was because Obama did it the wrong way.
The politically correct way to greet someone from a Latin country is to “kiss” the hand by bringing it to touch the greeter’s forehead, just like it is done in the Philippines which was once a colony of Spain. Along with this Filipino gesture of greeting and respect, the greeter would say, “Mano, po!” (Please give me your blessing!)
It looks like President Obama needs a lesson or two in cultural sensitivity.