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Christain leader says oil ok if chavez assassinated

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Televangelist Robertson calls for assassination of Venezuelan president
09:03 AM EDT Aug 24

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) - Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson has called on U.S. operatives to assassinate Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, saying it would be "cheaper than starting a war . . . and I don't think any oil shipments will stop."

"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 said of the democratically elected Chavez, who is a frequent critic of U.S. foreign policy.

"It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with."

On Tuesday, critics of Robertson said they were deeply troubled by the evangelist's remarks.

"It's absolutely chilling to hear a religious leader call for the murder of any political leader, no matter how much he disagrees with such a leader's policies or practices," said Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

David Brock, president of Media Matters, a liberal media watchdog group, said the remarks should discredit Robertson as a spokesman for the religious right.

Chavez has emerged as one of the most outspoken critics of President George W. 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."

Among other things, Robertson accused Chavez, a personal friend of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, of wanting Venezuela to become a launching pad for both "communist infiltration and Muslim extremism."

Robertson, 75, founder of the Christian Coalition of America and a former presidential candidate, also blasted U.S. authorities for failing to sufficiently support opposition leaders when Chavez was briefly overthrown in a failed right-wing coup in 2002.

A Robertson spokeswoman, Angell Watts, said Robertson would not do interviews Tuesday and had no statement elaborating on his remarks.

Chavez was believed to be in Cuba, but his exact whereabouts were unknown and no media access was announced.

In Caracas, pro-Chavez legislator Desire Santos Amaral accused Robertson of shedding his Christian values.

"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."

Santos said she thinks U.S.-Venezuelan relations could still improve but that comments by "fascists" like Robertson only get in the way.

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.

Venezuela is the world's fifth largest oil exporter and a major supplier to the United States. The CIA estimates that U.S. markets absorb almost 59 per cent of Venezuela's total exports.

Robertson has made controversial statements in the past. In October 2003, he suggested that the U.S. State Department be blown up with a nuclear device. He has also said that feminism encourages women to "kill their children, practise witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians."

The Canadian Press, 2005

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