[News] Transcript - Hugo Chavez on Nightline

Anti-Imperialist News News at freedomarchives.org
Mon Sep 19 08:53:20 EDT 2005

Transcript: Hugo Chavez Interview


Venezuelan President On Rocky Relations with Washington

Sep. 16, 2005 - In his first American broadcast interview since the Rev. 
Pat Robertson called for his assassination last month, Venezuelan President 
Hugo Chavez told ABC News' Ted Koppel today that he has evidence of a 
United States plan to invade Venezuela. In New York for the U.N. Summit, 
Chavez discussed his strained relationship with the United States 
government, Robertson's comments and the United States' dependence on 
Venezuela's oil supply.

Following is a rush transcript of the interview, which airs tonight on 
"Nightline" at 11:35 p.m. ET.

KOPPEL: Tell me a little bit -- most Americans don't know very much about 
you. Tell me a little bit about your youth, when you were a young man.

CHAVEZ (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I would like to welcome you. And I would like 
to greet all of the people who are watching this program and who are 
listening to it. I was a farm kid from the plains of South Venezuela, from 
a very poor family. I grew up in a palm tree house with an earthen floor.

And later, we were lucky enough, my brothers and I, to be able to study. 
There were six of us. My father and my mother were both teachers. They 
inculcated to us the importance of studies. But out of every 100 children 
from my town, 99 didn't get to study. That was poverty, the poorest of the 

Later, I was a young athlete. I was telling this friend here from San 
Francisco so that one of my greatest dreams was to be a pitcher for the San 
Francisco Giants. I played a lot of baseball. It was a passion of mine.

I painted. I wanted to be a painter. I sang. I still sing a little bit. I 
still paint a little bit. And I can still bat a bit.

But afterwards, when I was 16, I became a soldier. But I became a soldier, 
not because I had a military vocation initially, but because it was the 
only way that that young, poor-class child from the provinces could go to 
the center of the country: through baseball, which was my dream.

But I liked the army. And I became a patriotic soldier. And that's what I 
am, essentially, a patriotic soldier.

KOPPEL: I read that you discovered later in your life that your grandfather 
or your great grandfather was a guerrilla fighter. Is that correct?

CHAVEZ (THROUGH TRANSLATOR):That was from a previous time, a hundred years 
ago. Yes, he was a great grandfather of mine.

But the point is that when I was a kid, I would hear stories from my 
grandmother and my great grandmother -- you know, when they talk -- 
grandmothers tell stories.

And when I was a kid, I heard that I had a murderous grandfather. And that 
stuck with me.

But later, when I became a man, and I was reading the history of my 
fatherland, a history that starts in the 20th century, I conciliated myself 
to the fact that he was not a murderer; he was a guerrilla. He was one of 
the last men on horseback. This was the time of Pancho Villa. This was the 
time of Emiliano Zapata. This was the time of San Dino (ph). This was the 
time of (inaudible) the gentleman of hope in Brazil (inaudible). He was one 
of those last horsemen who took on imperialism.

My great grandfather was one of them. I discovered the truth.

KOPPEL: You're a man who loves language. You're a man of many words. I'm 
going to put you to a test now.

Give me three words that describe you.

CHAVEZ (THROUGH TRANSLATOR):A soldier-esque man. I would add the word 
"patriot." I would add the word "revolutionary."

KOPPEL: A revolutionary has to be in revolt against something. What are you 
revolting against?

CHAVEZ (THROUGH TRANSLATOR):I've been in revolt for years against ignominy, 
against injustice, against inequality, against immorality, against the 
exploitation of human beings.

One of the greatest rebels, who I really admire: Christ. He was a rebel. He 
ended up being crucified. He was a great rebel. He rebelled against the 
established power that subjugated. That is what rebellion is; it's 
rebellion out of love for human beings. In truth, that is the cause, the 
cause of love: love for every human being, for every women, for every 
child, for every man, for every brother.

I believe you to be a brother. I don't see you as above or below. I don't 
feel superior or inferior to you. We're on an equal basis. Your cameraman, 
your photograph are equal. The men and women who are seeing you, who are 
seeing us are equal. They're true brothers.

KOPPEL: Well, maybe the photographer; not the cameraman.


No, no, I'm just teasing. He's an old friend.

CHAVEZ (THROUGH TRANSLATOR):It's really hot here in New York.

KOPPEL: It's very hot here in New York.

I appreciate what you say and I think I understand that you don't feel that 
same way; you don't have that same love for the government of the United 

CHAVEZ (THROUGH TRANSLATOR):Yes. There are profound differences, very 
profound with this government, this administration since Mr. Bush came into 
power. We have been subjected -- Venezuela has been subjected to permanent 
aggression against us and against me personally.

There has been no respect for the sovereignty of Venezuelans, for the chief 
of state (inaudible) Venezuela.

On the other hand, I remind you that last night I gathered here with some 
Democrats and Republicans. Tomorrow, I'm going to be with some others.

Recently, Jackson was there and I'm going to see him tomorrow.

This morning, I saw Danny Grover (ph). We're good friends. And I said to 
them, and I say to everyone, that it was different with Clinton.

With President Clinton, I sat down just like we are now on at least three 
occasions. There was no occasion for disrespect on either side.

Now, this administration has truly broken with all protocols of democracy 
and respect for people. The coup d'etat against Venezuela was manufactured 
in Washington. My death was ordered. And it was ordered recently.

Reverend Pat Robertson, who is very close to the president, asked for me to 
be physically eliminated, for me to be killed.

And so perhaps Christ recommends that when we get a slap in our cheek, we 
turn the other cheek. We have both cheeks red and blue because we've turned 
the cheek so many times. But we never (inaudible) because we do love the 
people of the United States. We want to be brothers and sisters of the 
people of the United States, independently of their government.

KOPPEL: I'm going to perhaps shock you a little, but these are your words. 
You called President Bush an asshole.

CHAVEZ (THROUGH TRANSLATOR):I've said various things about him. I don't 
know if I actually used that word. But I have been really hard on him.

But I have always responded to things that I was termed. I was termed a 
threat, a threat to the continent. It was said of me that I harbor terrorists.

There have been official reports issued from the State Department. The 
secretary of state has gone through South America saying publicly that I 
have to be isolated; that I am a threat; that I am using oil to subvert 
order in Latin America. Some secretaries of state -- other secretaries of 
state, that I am allied with drug traffickers -- a series of lies and 
aggressionists that sometimes I respond to. And sometimes we raise the tone.

We wait to get signals, and we respond to signals we receive from Washington.

KOPPEL: So you haven't got any -- you haven't received any good signals 

CHAVEZ (THROUGH TRANSLATOR):Really good signals? No. You know where right 
now my medical team is? In the presidential plane, 200 kilometers from 
here. The government of the United States, in violation of the laws of the 
United States and conventions, prevented my doctors from coming to New 
York. Where is the chief of staff of my military detachment and my chief of 
security? On the plane. They've been locked into the plane, two days. They 
can't come out of the plane.

Those are the signals we're receiving. Yesterday they issued a report 
saying that Venezuela does not cooperate in the fight against drugs. 
Absolutely false. We have broken records this year in confiscation of 
cocaine in the fight against drug trafficking. Those are the false 
aggressions, the false signals we've been receiving.

KOPPEL: I've been told by contacts of mine in the U.S. intelligence 
community that you have members of Al Qaida, you have members of other 
terrorist groups who are allowed to operate within Venezuela. Not true?

CHAVEZ (THROUGH TRANSLATOR):It's absolutely false. And one time someone 
said that bin Laden -- did anyone ever say bin Laden could be in Venezuela?

KOPPEL: Not to my knowledge.

CHAVEZ (THROUGH TRANSLATOR):Those are part of the lies that are 
circulating. So the lies haven't reached that point, but it's absolutely 

But it's part of the whole chain of rumors in this campaign to even justify 
my death, because recently Pat Robertson and an ex-CIA agent added that I 
should already be dead because, since I'm a threat, you have to liquidate 
the threats, you have to wipe them out, you have to kill them. That would 
justify any greater (inaudible) aggression against us.

KOPPEL: It was a foolish thing to say, and Pat Robertson admitted later 
that it was a foolish thing to say. And certainly no one from the 
government condoned what he said.

Why do you take what a private citizen says, foolish as it may have been, 
and ascribe it to the U.S. government?

CHAVEZ (THROUGH TRANSLATOR):Well, take a look at this.

The U.S. administration has to reject -- should have rejected the term of 
terrorist that Robertson used. The U.S. administration seriously sinned 
with respect to international and national laws, because the call to murder 
a chief of state is, in accordance with international law, terrorism.

So this gentleman, Robertson, should be under arrest by the government of 
the United States -- silence.

Consequently, harboring a terrorist, but not only Robertson -- there have 
been television channels in Miami, various people, including some 
Venezuelan terrorists who participated in the coup d'etat and who lived 
here in the United States freely -- went to request my death, and the 
government of this country does absolutely nothing.

So they are harboring terrorism, independently of whether or not Robertson 
(inaudible) of a personality. But that is not the main issue. The main 
issue is that on television, in front of millions of people, he justified 
my assassination.

And later, he said, no, it was not assassination. It was kidnapping. But 
that's also terrorism.

KOPPEL: If one looks at your record, one could easily come to the 
conclusion that you would like to put pressure on the United States.

You have spoken in the past of cutting off Venezuelan oil to the United 
States. You have signed new agreements with China. You have visited India. 
There is a sense that you want to be able to bring the United States to its 

CHAVEZ (THROUGH TRANSLATOR):It's very difficult for someone to bring the 
empire to its knees. That is not my pretension. That would be something 
totally disproportional.

What we do want to do is have both of us on our feet -- both of us standing 
up or both of us sitting down. Or, if we kneel, let both of us kneel. That 
would be to pray -- to pray, as we Christians pray.

Now, there's the matter of oil. Look, let me clarify. And I would like to 
clarify this for the people of the United States. The people of the United 
States should know that we are the owners in a U.S. territory of a great 
oil (inaudible) which has eight major refineries. That company has a value 
in near $10 billion.

We're one of the biggest investors of Latin America. I think we're the 
prime investor of Latin America in the United States. We are giving 
employment to more than 2,000 U.S. workers and their families. We are 
paying taxes to the government of the United States. We cooperate with many 
cities, with mayoralties, Houston.

And now with Katrina, this awful drama that the United States is living 
through, from the very first day I ordered a group -- a coordinating a 
group of support being sent to where one of our refineries is located. 
We've been helping. And we've been even rescuing people.

Practically no one in the United States knows that we've donated millions 
of dollars to the governorship of Louisiana, to the New Orleans Red Cross. 
We're now giving care to more than 5,000 victims, and now we're going to 
supply gasoline, freely in some cases, and with discounts in other cases, 
to the poorest of communities, starting with New Orleans and its surroundings.

The people of the United States should know that.

The only time that I have said where Venezuela would not supply oil to the 
United States, it was no threat. It's rather to respond to a threat, the 
threat of invasion. We have obtained evidence of something which would be 
absolutely foolhardy, the invasion of Venezuela. That's where we said that 
under those circumstances...

KOPPEL: Let me stop you.

CHAVEZ (THROUGH TRANSLATOR):... there would be no oil.

KOPPEL: Are you saying you have discovered evidence of an invasion plan 
against Venezuela or are you saying "if" you discovered a plan?

CHAVEZ (THROUGH TRANSLATOR):I'm telling you that I have evidence that there 
are plans to invade Venezuela. Furthermore, we have documentation: how many 
bombers to overfly Venezuela on the day of the invasion, how many 
trans-Atlantic carriers, how many aircraft carriers need to be sent to 
(inaudible) even during (inaudible).

Recently, an aircraft carrier went to Curacao (inaudible) the fact that the 
soldiers were on leave.

That's a lie. They were doing movements. They were doing maneuvers. All on 
documentation. The plan is called Balboa, where Venezuela is indicated as 
an objective.

And in the face of that scenario, I said that if that actually happens, the 
United States should just forget the million and a half barrels of oil. 
Because everyday since I've been in power for seven years, we haven't 
missed it even one single day -- just one day, when we were overthrown. We 
were overthrown by that coup -- oil sabotage -- which was supported by 

KOPPEL: If I may, Mr. President, you say you have documentation of this 
plan. Can I ask you now, on camera, will you make that documentation 
available to me?

CHAVEZ (THROUGH TRANSLATOR):I can send to you -- I can't send it all, but I 
can make sure I can send part of it to you. I can send it to you.

KOPPEL: Please.

CHAVEZ (THROUGH TRANSLATOR):I can send you maps and everything, and you can 
show it to the United States citizens. What I can't tell you his how we got 
it, to protect the sources, how we got it through military intelligence.

But nobody can deny it, because (inaudible) the Balboa plan. We are coming 
up with the counter-Balboa plan. That is to say if the government of the 
United States attempts to commit the foolhardy enterprise of attacking us, 
it would be embarked on a 100-year war. We are prepared.

They would not manage to control Venezuela, the same way they haven't been 
able to control Iraq. (inaudible) Venezuela, my impression is that there 
would be a movement of a resistance in other parts of this continent. Oil 
could reach $100 or $120 a barrel, among other things.

KOPPEL: Can you understand why people think that you are unfriendly toward 
the government of the United States?

Among your closest friends: Cuba, Syria, Iran, Libya. These are all 
countries that the United States regards as unfriendly, if not terrorist 
countries themselves.

CHAVEZ (THROUGH TRANSLATOR):Well, Cuba is much more than a friend. The 
people of Cuba and its leader, Fidel Castro, are much more than friends. We 
are joined in a battle which is described in the plans of each country and 
described in the roots of our history.

Now, Cuba is being attacked -- assaulted by the United States, by the 
government of the United States, and that has been the case for more than 
40 years. This inhumane blockade, this unjustified blockade, the United 
Nations has gotten tired of issuing pronouncements asking the United States 
to cease the blockade. And Pope John Paul II -- and the undignified, 
unjust, accusative, arbitrary blockade is being maintained.

The assaulted party is Cuba. We are brothers of Cuba.

We are also friends of Gadhafi. We are part of the petroleum producing 
companies. This morning I met with the president of Iran. We are members of 

And I'm also very close to Lula. I'm very close to (inaudible). I'm a very 
good friend of the prime minister of Jamaica. I'm very close to the 
representatives who came here last night, Delahunt from Massachusetts, 
Burton, a Republican. Good friends. I have a lot of friends (inaudible).

Now, you can't say -- nobody can say that Venezuela is a country that 
commits aggression against the United States or is an enemy of the United 
States because it has open relations with (inaudible) world. We have open 
relations with China (inaudible). With Colombia we have very good 
relations. We have good relations with everyone.

The only country, the only administration with whom we don't have good 
relations on the face of the earth is the administration of Mr. Bush. 
That's the only example (inaudible). We are friends of the king of Spain. 
As we say in Venezuela, he is a good guy. The king of Malaysia (inaudible). 
The emir of Qatar is my brother.

I have friends throughout the entire world, kings, princes, presidents, 
prime ministers. Only with Washington is where the relationship doesn't work.

KOPPEL: Let me put it very simply.


KOPPEL: If the United States doesn't invade Venezuela, can the people of 
the United States assume that Venezuela will continue supplying as much oil 
to the United States as it has in the past?

CHAVEZ (THROUGH TRANSLATOR):Of course. Let me tell you something further.

If you give me a map, I'll show it to you very simply, very quickly. Most 
all the U.S. companies work in Venezuela -- ChevronTexaco, ExxonMobil 
(inaudible) Venezuela. And they are producing oil.

And let me tell you that I meet very frequently with the managers and the 
administrators, the leaders. Recently, the world director of Chevron came 
to announce to me that they want to invest more than $5 billion in 
(inaudible). They just won a gas license, ChevronTexaco. They are operating 
(inaudible) Shell, from England.

What's the name -- the Norwegian (inaudible), but especially the U.S. 
companies. They are developing plans to continue to invest in Venezuela in 
gas and oil.

Pay attention. In these days of Katrina, today or tomorrow, a Venezuelan 
ship with 300,000 barrels of gasoline should be arriving. It's the first of 
four or five additional ships that we have sent to help to palliate the 
(inaudible) and put the breaks on the (inaudible). That's what we're doing. 
(inaudible) You hit me on one cheek, and I'll try to respond by helping 
you. I don't care. We're not doing this for the administration. We're doing 
it for the people of the United States. So that's how I respond.

We have no plans to alter in any way the supply of oil to the United States.

Furthermore, I would say that Venezuela has the chief, most important oil 
reserves in the world. Do you know how much oil is left in the United 
States reserve? Barely 20 billion barrels, with 20 million barrels a day 
being consumed.

Venezuela has 300 billion barrels for the reserve. We have the second-most 
important reserve of gas in this continent of the United States or in the 

Now we want to share that oil and that gas with the United States, but also 
with the Caribbean, but also with China and also with India and also with 
Argentina and Brazil.

Now we are (inaudible) in the Orinoco River. I hope you could visit the 
Orinoco and do a special program on oil, because what I must confirm is 
that we offer the United States every guarantee for oil supply for 150 (ph) 
years more, when both of us will be pushing up daisies.

KOPPEL: Mr. President, on that happy note, let me thank you. You've been 
most generous with your time and it's been a pleasure talking to you.

Thank you very much indeed.

CHAVEZ (THROUGH TRANSLATOR):Let me thank you. I would like to greet you, 
and I hope you can come to Venezuela. Let me invite you and let us greet 
the entire people of the United States.

Tomorrow I'm going to take a walk through some of the neighborhoods of New 
York. We're going to a church to see Jesse Jackson (inaudible). And then 
I'm going to play a baseball game on the field with some Yankees (ph).

We love the people of the United States, and our desire is to have a world 
of brothers in peace. God grant that that be the case.

Thank you.

KOPPEL: Thank you, sir.


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