CARACAS - Venezuela's socialist leader Hugo Chavez said on Sunday that U.S. President Barack Obama had done nothing beyond wishful thinking to earn the Nobel Peace Prize.
Chavez, who has mixed praise for Obama personally with criticism of his government's imperialist policies, said he thought it was a mistake when he read the U.S. leader had won.
What has Obama done to deserve this prize? The jury put store on his hope for a nuclear arms-free world, forgetting his role in perpetuating his battalions in Iraq and Afghanistan, and his decision to install new military bases in Colombia, Chavez wrote in a column.
For the first time, we are witnessing an award with the nominee having done nothing to deserve it: rewarding someone for a wish that is very far from becoming reality.
Chavez said giving Obama the Nobel award was like giving a baseball pitcher a prize simply for saying he was going to win 50 games and strike out 500 batters.
Although mild compared to some of the virulent rhetoric he often uses against the United States, Chavez's criticism contrasted with the assessment of his mentor, Fidel Castro.
The former Cuban leader said it was a positive measure that implied criticism of the genocidal policies of Obama's predecessors in the White House.
Though Caracas and Washington have hostile political relations, the United States remains the main buyer of oil from the OPEC member nation.
(Reporting by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Eric Walsh)