Venezuela’s Chavez Accuses U.S. Government of Considering his Assassination

Chavez accused the U.S. government of considering his assassination and of preparing public opinion for a possible agression against Venezuela.

Venezuela president Hugo Chavez accused the U.S. government of preparing public opinion for a possible agression against Venezuela
Chavez accused the U.S. government of preparing public opinion for a possible agression against Venezuela.
Credit: ABN

Caracas, Venezuela. Feb 20, 2004 ( Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez denounced that the U.S. government is preparing “new aggressions” against him and against the Venezuelan people. “Before the world, before our people, before the Latin American people, and before the people of North America, for whom we have respect, I accuse the government of the United States of continuing their aggressions against Venezuela,” he said during his weekly live TV show.

“The U.S. government has crashed in Venezuela, and will continue to crash as many times as they want,” Chavez said in reference to alleged past attempts by the U.S. to remove him from power.

The mercurial Venezuelan leader has repeatedly accused the U.S. government of trying to oust him. Scattered evidence has linked the U.S. government to the 2002 coup d’etat against Chavez, and the U.S. financed opposition groups in Venezuela through the National Endowment for Democracy. Last August, twice-elected Chavez won a referendum on his rule, which was largely organized by groups that receive funds from the U.S. government.

The U.S. government publicly criticizes the democratically-elected leader, accusing him of undermining democracy. CIA Director Porter Goss recently said that Chavez “is consolidating his power by using technically legal tactics to target his opponents and meddling in the region.”

“Assassination an option”

Chavez explicitly said that the U.S. government is considering his assassination as one of the options to get rid of him. “They know they cannot stage a coup d’etat, they know that there is no Pinochet here because we have generals, commanders and soldiers who are patriots, and who will not bend their knees before the U.S. empire, they know that there is a people with conscience which they will not be able to confuse through the media they control.” he said.

“They know that the latest polls give Chavez a 70% approval rating. They know that in the upcoming 2006 elections, Chavez is undefeatable,” he continued.

“They failed with the coup, with the economic sabotage… they know the Bolivarian project advances victorious in the social arena, they know the impact of the missions (social programs), they know how the economy is growing, that we are recovering our economic sovereignty, and they know that Venezuela is a world power when it comes to oil and gas. They know all that,” he added.

“U.S. failed to isolate Venezuela”

The leftist president cited the resolution of the recent diplomatic crisis with Colombia over the kidnapping of a Colombian guerrilla leader, as an example of the U.S. failure to isolate Venezuela in the region. The U.S. asked several Latin American countries to pressure Chavez during the dispute, a request that was either ignored or rejected. “The U.S. was left alone once again… They should know that in spite of their pressures and their attempts at blackmailing, they will not be able to isolate Venezuela from our sister countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, they will not be able to isolate us,” Chavez said.

Chavez hinted at a continent-wide rebellion in case he is assassinated. “As a group of Latin American workers and indigenous leaders told me recently, ‘if something happens to you, we, who are making an effort here to push our forces through democratic channels, will assume that those rules no longer apply.'” Chavez assured Bush that he did not wish for that to happen, for President Bush’s own good and for the good of the U.S. population. “But [if that happens] the flame will not only arise in Venezuela, but throughout the peoples of the Americas, so think about it twice comrade Bush,” he said.

The leader said that “U.S. imperialism would bite the dust” in case of an invasion to Venezuela. “Mr. Bush and his advisors think that by killing Chavez, there will be a popular rebellion, the Marines will come, the Venezuela people will give up, and the Venezuelan Armed Forces will accept the invasion. They are wrong on that,” he said.

Venezuela says it is buying Super Tucano propeller planes from Brazil to patrol its jungle and borders, frequently attacked by Colombian insurgents
Venezuela says it is buying Super Tucano propeller planes from Brazil to patrol its jungle and its borders, where Colombian insurgents frequently operate.
Credit: Embraer

Counting on revenues from high oil prices and an explosive economic growth, the Venezuelan government recently approved the purchase of 40 helicopters and 100,000 Kalashnikov rifles from Russia, and some propeller-powered “Tucano” light attack planes from Brazil, a move that has been seen as a preparation against a possible attack or attempts at destabilizing Venezuela. The recent killings of Venezuelan soldiers during confrontations with Colombian irregular forces, frequent kidnappings near the Colombian border, the discovery of a Colombian paramilitary camp in Caracas, have been cited by the government as a justification for the arms purchase to renew Venezuela’s aging military equipment.

Chavez also threatened with the interruption of the flow of oil to the U.S. in case he is assassinated. “If these perverse plans succeed, Mr. Bush can forget about Venezuelan oil… Forget about it Mr. Bush,” he said. “Here in Venezuela, either there is fatherland for all, or there is no fatherland for anybody.”

Preparing the terrain

He accused the U.S. government of preparing the terrain for a possible intervention in Venezuela. “As anyone who studies the behavior of the U.S. empire during the last century discovers a common factor; every time the U.S. are going to attack someone, they don’t do it right away, they start by preparing the terrain of their internal public opinion, one of the things that worries them the most. Look at the example of Iraq; there was a campaign against Saddam Hussein, accusing him of having chemical weapons, accusing him of being a menace, by presenting evidence that resulted to be false, to justify the aggression. That way, when the launch the attack, they obtain the support of a big part of their internal public opinion. Almost all media in the country support them… they look for allies in Europe, from the U.N., they start preparing the terrain, and their current aggression are part of this campaign.”

U.S. right-leaning news network Fox News, recently ran a series titled “The Iron Fist of Hugo Chavez,” in which Chavez is portrayed as a dictator who uses violence to stay in power, and invests the country’s oil revenue in weapons, instead of helping the poor. U.S. media frequently refer to Chavez as a “strong-man,” in spite of his multiple electoral victories certified by foreign observers.

Chavez went on to enumerate recent comments by U.S. officials characterizing him as a menace, which he and other officials describe as an intervention in the internal affairs of Venezuela. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roger Noriega, Deputy Secretary of State Robert Zoellick, Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Marc Grossman, Florida Governor Jeb Bush, and CIA director Porter Goss, have made public statements criticizing Chavez.

He said U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is trying to personalize the conflict. “They do not address the Venezuelan government, but just Hugo Chavez, in order to personalize the conflict. She said that Hugo Chavez is a threat for the continent, for democracy and for peace,” Chavez added.

“Instability would only come from Washington”

With regard to CIA Director Goss’ recent characterization of Venezuela as a “potentially unstable country in 2005,” Chavez said that given the economic growth of Venezuela, which economy expanded by 17.3% in 2004, any instability that may occur is being planned by Washington. “He [Goss] acknowledged that the Venezuelan president is consolidating his power by using technically legal tactics to target his opponents and meddling in the region.”

According to Chavez, two years ago Bush, using the excuse of fighting terror, gave the CIA once again a green light to kill anybody “wherever, and whenever, like Agent 007, even world leaders who are considered a threat,” he said.

“Don’t make the mistake Mr. Bush, of ordering my assassination, because you will regret it. Be assured that this people will make you regret it. Not only this people, but many others around the world, because the time of cowards is over, Mr. Bush, because in this era we are living, peoples are rising everywhere, and there is no imperialism however powerful they are or believe they are, that could stop the awakening of the peoples that is occurring at the beginning of the 21st century,” he added.

The Venezuelan leader has criticized U.S. military interventions throughout the world, and its alleged lack of commitment to policies that would prevent radical environmental changes. Today he went on to say that U.S. government advisers and planners are “not only planning the death of the world, but are executing it. They are killing the world, our world, and our grandchildren’s world ,” he said.

U.S. policy towards Latin America has been the focus of criticisms by some analysts and politicians. U.S. Democratic Senator Christopher J. Dodd recently hinted that the Bush administration was unnecessarily straining bilateral relations with Venezuela. At the confirmation hearing of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Dodd urged her to take a more moderate tone with Chavez “This is an important relationship, it’s important in the hemisphere. We need to work at it,” Dodd said. Rice had said that the government of Venezuela is a negative force in the region.

Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee hinted at Secretary Rice that it might be hypocritical for the U.S. to treat some undemocratic leaders such as Pakistan’s Musharraf with respect, while offending democratically elected ones such as Chavez. He highlighted Chavez’s recent victory at a recall referendum. Chafee told Rice, “It seems to me to say derogatory things about him may be disrespectful to him, but also to the Venezuelan people.” Rice denied making derogatory comments about Chavez, who in turn has called her “illiterate” when it comes to knowing about Venezuela. “They have spoken,” Chafee said in reference to the Venezuelan people and the recall referendum.

Some observers characterize the current U.S. policy towards as misguided, and too centered on Cuba. Roger Noriega, and former special envoy to Latin America Otto Reich, have been accused of giving the U.S. a bad image in Latin America with their aggressive foreign policy.

Venezuela’s Foreign Relations Minister, Ali Rodriguez, recently said that Venezuela wants to improve relations with the U.S. “In order to be able to maintain a constructive relationship, it is absolutely necessary and imperative to respect the sovereignty and the right to self-determination of other countries,” Rodriguez said.

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