Venezuela’s president Hugo Chavez was in the spotlight again last week following an extraordinary call for his assassination by Pat Robertson, one of the US’s most prominent right wing Christian fundamentalist preachers.
Socialists from across Latin America called for solidarity with Chavez at a meeting of left wing activists in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, last week (see Make way for Brazil’s new left).
Robertson told viewers of his TV show on Monday last week that Chavez was turning Venezuela into “a launching pad for Communist infiltration and Muslim extremism all over the continent”.
“We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability,” he added. “If he thinks we’re trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it.”
Robertson’s tirade embarrassed the US government, with a state department official describing it as “inappropriate”.
But the Bush administration has also been stepping up its war of words against Chavez. Last month US defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld accused him of stoking up the recent mass revolts in Bolivia.