Hugo Chavez; 'A Terrorist Administration'
Weymouth, Lally, Newsweek International
Byline: Lally Weymouth
Venezuela's president Hugo Chavez is a bete noire of the Bush administration. He's a populist on the Castro model who wants to steer Latin America firmly to the left. He also rules a key oil-producing country, which gives him unusual leverage. In a recent interview with NEWSWEEK's Lally Weymouth in New York, he made clear his dislike for U.S. President George W. Bush. Excerpts:
WEYMOUTH: The opposition in Venezuela feel that they have no space.
CHAVEZ: You cannot forget that this very opposition governed Venezuela between 1958 and 1998. If they feel like they have no space, it is because they have been cooked in their own sauce. Between 1958 and 1998, Venezuela fell apart. We ended the 20th century with poverty as we have never seen it. So if they feel they do not have any room to act, it's their own fault.
You have said that the United States is the most evil country in the world, and you called America a terrorist state. Do you want to have relations with the United States?
Of course, and indeed, we have relations and want to improve them.
Why did you call the United States a terrorist state?
The country is one thing; we have lovely relations with the people--like in the Bronx [where Chavez paid a visit]. We have economic relations. We have a company [Citgo] that refines daily 800,000 barrels of oil... We have 14,000 gas stations in this country. We have sent major-league baseball players here. But the media is trying to make the American people see me as an enemy. What I said is that this U.S. administration--the current government--is a terrorist administration, not all U.S. governments.
So what's wrong with President Bush?
This administration invaded Iraq. According to Pope John Paul II, it is an illegal war, an immoral war, a terrorist war... In Venezuela they fostered a coup d'etat [in 2002] manufactured by the CIA. Recently, Rev. [Pat] Robertson called for my assassination. This is a terrorist attack, according to international law. In Miami, on a daily basis, people on TV shows are calling for my assassination. This is terrorism.
Reportedly, one of your best friends is Cuba's Fidel Castro. Is that true?
He is one of my best friends.
Why do you admire him?
His valor, his courage, the way he has led the revolution for more than 40 years--in spite of a blockade and an embargo. …