The Associated Press
Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson suggested on-air that American operatives assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to stop his country from becoming “a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism.”
“We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability,” Robertson said Monday on the Christian Broadcast Network’s “The 700 Club.”
“We don’t need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator,” he continued. “It’s a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.”
Chavez has emerged as one of the most outspoken critics of President Bush, accusing the United States of conspiring to topple his government and possibly backing plots to assassinate him. U.S. officials have called the accusations ridiculous.
“You know, I don’t know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we’re trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it,” Robertson said. “It’s a whole lot cheaper than starting a war ... and I don’t think any oil shipments will stop.”
Robertson, 75, founder of the Christian Coalition of America and a former presidential candidate, accused the United States of failing to act when Chavez was briefly overthrown in 2002.
Electronic pages and a message to a Robertson spokeswoman were not immediately returned Monday evening.
Venezuela is the fifth largest oil exporter and a major supplier of oil to the United States. The CIA estimates that U.S. markets absorb almost 59 percent of Venezuela’s total exports.
Venezuela’s government has demanded in the past that the United States crack down on Cuban and Venezuelan “terrorists” in Florida who they say are conspiring against Chavez.
Robertson has made controversial statements in the past. In October 2003, he suggested that the State Department be blown up with a nuclear device. He has also said that feminism encourages women to “kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.”