I don't like Chavez either, Pat, but...
Televangelist Pat Robertson suggested in a radio interview that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez should be assassinated by U.S. intelligence operatives, saying "We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator...It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with."
While I would contend Chavez's removal would be a good thing for both the U.S. and the people of Venezuela, I think that Mr. Robertson is dead wrong (pardon the pun) when it comes to methodology. Assassinating Chavez would only make the situation worse. There would be a sudden spike in anti-American sentiment in Latin America, and we would have a huge diplomatic mess on our hands. Chavez has a lot of support from the presidents of Brazil, Chile, and Uruguay (and possibly a few other countries). He would also become a martyr to the Socialist Left in both Latin America and the U.S., to whom he is already an iconic figure (read Communist Party USA's newspaper "People's Weekly World" and you will see that they LOVE Hugo Chavez).
Now, let me offer an alternative to Robertson's solution. U.S. intelligence agents should work closely with the Venezuelan opposition, which has been suppressed under Chavez, in order to foment anti-Chavez opinion among the people. Chavez is becoming a dictator, and I believe that the Venezuelan people will rise up and overthrow him once they realize it. U.S. diplomatic representatives in Venezuela should also be very vocal, calling on Chavez to end his crackdown on the opposition and sever his ties with repressive dictator Fidel Castro. If we take these steps, we would heighten the possibility of a non-violent "people-power" revolution similar to the recent "color revolutions" in Georgia, Ukraine, and Kyrgyzstan. This method a take a little longer, but it won't create a backlash.
Hugo Chavez is dangerous. If he does become Castro Part 2, I would even be open to forcibly removing him (not using U.S. troops, but by arming the Venezuelan opposition). However, I think that the best way to get Chavez out of office BEFORE he becomes another Castro is to use our intelligence and diplomatic forces to convince the people of Venezuela to take care of their own problem.
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