The US President Barack Obama is on a historic visit to Cuba. The world flashed images of him standing next to President Raul Castro. Many called it watershed moment for Barack Obama who could leave his legacy by this visit.
Those who disagree with this say that President Obama has given away too much as he tries to improve ties with Cuba. They feel he has received very little from Raul Castro in return.
However, the atmosphere of bonhomie could not cover up for old criticisms and disagreements over human rights and embargo. This is the first official contact between the two nations in more than 50 years.
Mr. Castro who took over as President of Cuba from his elder brother Fidel Castro in 2008 looked very irritated as he faced journalists who asked him questions about political prisoners.
Here is what both leaders said during their not so comfortable joint press conference.
What did Obama say:
"In the absence of that, I think it will continue to be a very powerful irritant."
"America believes in democracy. We believe that freedom of speech and freedom of assembly and freedom of religion are not just American values but are universal values."
"The embargo's going to end. When, I can't be entirely sure."
"Cuba's destiny will not be decided by the United States or any other nation... The future of Cuba will be decided by Cubans not by anybody else."
"We have given them a lists in the past and they have responded intermittently to our engagement. And this I think is an example of why it was my belief that this would be a more successful mechanism for us to advance the values that we care about than an embargo and silence and no communications."
"The reason is what we did for 50 years did not serve our interests or the interests of the Cuban people."
"I actually welcome President Castro commenting on some of the areas where he feels that we're falling short, because I think we should not be immune or afraid of criticism or discussion as well."
What did Castro say:
"How many countries comply with all 61 human rights? Do you know? I do. None. None."
"We defend human rights, in our view civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights are indivisible, inter-dependent and universal."
"Actually we find it inconceivable that a government does not defend and ensure the right to healthcare, education, social security, food provision and development."
"And if there are these political prisoners they will be free before nightfall."
"Just mention the list. What political prisoners?"
"We agree that a long and complex path still lies ahead. What is most important is that we have started taking the first steps to build a new type of relationship, one that has never existed between Cuba and the United States."
"It is not correct to ask me about political prisoners."