Rather mixed reactions to the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Barack Obama at this stage. Palestinians resent it deeply wondering why Bush wasn’t offered it. Fidel Castro has acknowledged the changes in international relations with a shift to diplomacy not present before.
The Palestinians can be forgiven for not noticing as my good friend Kamel Hawwash from Birmingham amplifies. News from Bil’in reports the customary peaceful delegation to the apartheid wall which divides the farmers from their crops. Accompanied by a large delegation of French supporters and armed with sacks they go to harvest the olives. They are met with a barrage of tear gas and so the canisters are collected instead of the precious olives.
So is the Obama award a joke or a fraud? How Obama himself interprets is was indicated by his comment that this was “a call to action” which merely compounds the huge expectations generated. To many those expectations are already confounded with the continuation of hostilities in Afghanistan and Israels continuing vicious, barbaric occupation of Palestinian territory.
It is clear from the opposition to health reform that Obama is up against formidable internal pressure. Reading comments on countries in the Washington Office on Latin America considerable changes in attitude can be detected, even towards Colombia where a build up of American bases has been reported. It is explicit the the administration is no longer waiting for the demise of Fidel Castro before progress is made. The withdrawal of sanctions and release of the Cuba 5 would give substance to these comments.