Christian broadcaster Pat Robertson has given Hugo Chavez ample reason for his paranoia, calling for the US to assassinate the Venezuelan president, calling him “a terrific danger” bent on exporting Communism and Islamic extremism across the Americas. “If he thinks we’re trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it,” Robertson told viewers on his “The 700 Club” show Aug. 21. “It’s a whole lot cheaper than starting a war.” Robertson called Chavez “a dangerous enemy to our south, controlling huge pool of oil, that could hurt us badly.”
“We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability,” Robertson said. “We don’t need another $200 billion war to get rid of one strong-arm dictator. It’s a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.”
Robertson accused Chavez of trying to turn Venezuela into “a launching pad for Communist infiltration and Muslim extremism all over the continent.”
“This is in our sphere of influence, so we can’t let this happen,” he said.
This was the latest in a string of controversial comments by Roberts. In a May ABC interview, Robertson said so-called “activist judges” were more of a threat to the US than terrorists. “If they look over the course of 100 years, I think the gradual erosion of the consensus that’s held our country together is probably more serious than a few bearded terrorists who fly into buildings.”
In October 2003, Robertson, criticizing the State Department during an interview on “The 700 Club,” said “maybe we need a very small nuke thrown off on Foggy Bottom to shake things up.”
In November 2002, Robertson disputed Bush’s (obligatory and perfuntory) characterization of Islam as a religion of peace. “It’s clear from the teachings of the Koran and also from the history of Islam that it’s anything but peaceful,” Robertson said in a subsequent interview with CNN. “Of course there are peace-loving Muslims. But at the same time, at the core of this religion..is jihad, and it is to subject the unbelievers either to forced conversion or death. That’s what it teaches.” (CNN, Aug. 23)
In Venezuela, pro-Chavez lawmaker Desire Santos Amaral responded to Robertson’s comments: “This man cannot be a true Christian. He’s a fascist. This is part of the policies of aggression from the right wing in the North against our revolution.” She said right-wing anti-Chavez forces are considering killing him “because they haven’t been able to defeat him through elections or coups.”
Chavez has survived a brief 2002 coup, a devastating two-month strike that ended in early 2003 and recall referendum in 2004. Chavez is up for re-election next year, and polls suggest he is the favorite. Santos said she thinks US-Venezuelan relations could only improve if “charlatans and fascists” like Robertson get out of the way. (AP, Aug. 23)
See our last post on the US-Venezuela showdown.
See also our last report on Venezuela.