Chavez ally: Robertson a 'fascist'

(Gold9472: And so is Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Ashcroft, Wolfowitz, Perle, Rove, McLellan, Myers, Card, Libby, and many others...)

Tuesday, August 23, 2005; Posted: 12:15 p.m. EDT (16:15 GMT)

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- A Venezuelan lawmaker on Tuesday accused U.S. televangelist Pat Robertson of shedding his Christian values by calling for President Hugo Chavez's assassination.

Pro-Chavez lawmaker Desire Santos Amaral said she was shocked to learn that Robertson, a former U.S. presidential candidate, said on his show that if Chavez believes the United States is out to kill him, then it should. Robertson said this would stop Venezuela from becoming "a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism."(Full story)

"This man cannot be a true Christian. He's a fascist," Santos said. "This is part of the policies of aggression from the right wing in the North against our revolution."

Robertson's comments appear likely to further stoke tensions between Washington and Caracas. Chavez has repeatedly claimed that American officials are plotting to oust or kill him -- charges U.S. officials have denied.

Chavez has irritated U.S. officials with his leftist policies, his fiery rhetoric against American "imperialism" and his increasingly close ties to U.S. regimes in Cuba and Iran. He says he is leading Venezuela toward socialism and, in a visit to Cuba this week, praised President Fidel Castro's system as a "revolutionary democracy."

Robertson, founder of the Christian Coalition of America and a former presidential candidate, called Chavez a "terrific danger" to the United States on his TV show "The 700 Club" and said it would be easier to kill Chavez than invade Venezuela.

"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."

The United States is the top buyer of Venezuelan crude, but Chavez has made it clear he wants to decrease the country's dependence on the U.S. market by finding other buyers.

Santos rejected Robertson's allegations that Chavez aims to turn the South American country into a sanctuary for radical groups hostile to the United States.

Santos said Venezuelan authorities have long been aware of the threat of an assassination attempt against Chavez, who has increased security to reduce such risks.

She said radical right-wing Chavez foes are mulling the possibility of 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 U.S.-Venezuelan relations could still improve, but she added that comments seeking to spur violence by "charlatans and fascists" like Robertson only get in the way.

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