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Venezuela curbs foreign preachers
by ALJ
Friday Aug 26th, 2005 8:50 PM
Venezuela's government has temporarily suspended permits for foreign missionaries after a US evangelist said Washington should assassinate President Hugo Chavez.
The policy announcement came four days after conservative evangelist Pat Robertson said Washington should execute Chavez, a former soldier who often accuses the United States of plotting to kill him.

The chief of the Justice Ministry's religious affairs unit, Carlos Gonzalez, said on Friday authorisation of good office permits for missionaries would be curbed while the government tightened regulations on preachers inside Venezuela.

The permits "are suspended for a short time, it could be three or four weeks, while we organise a system to see what additional data we need for people coming into the country to preach," Gonzalez said.

"We were already working on this, but these declarations have made us speed things up," he said.

Worsening ties

Robertson later apologized, but his comments have illustrated the political gulf that has opened up between the United States and one of its biggest oil suppliers since Chavez was elected in 1998 promising populist reforms.

The Venezuelan president said on Friday US President George Bush would be to blame if anything happened to him after the comments by Robertson.

"He was expressing the wishes of the US elite ... If anything happens to me then the man responsible will be George W. Bush. He will be the assassin," Chavez said at a public event. "This is pure terrorism."

Robertson, the founder of the Christian Coalition and a leader of the Christian right that has backed Bush, said that if Chavez "thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it".

He retracted his comments on Wednesday, saying he spoke in frustration over Chavez's constant accusations against Washington.

Relations between Caracas and Washington have soured since Chavez survived a brief 2002 coup he says was backed by US authorities. US and Venezuelan officials have since frequently traded accusations.

A close ally of communist Cuba, Chavez presents his self-proclaimed revolution as an alternative to US policies in the region.

http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/A4D1A4BE-DA16-4467-B8B1-AF9326567B18.htm
by more
Friday Aug 26th, 2005 8:51 PM
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez says US President George W Bush will be to blame if any thing happens to him.

He was speaking after US TV evangelist Pat Robertson called for his assassination in comments the US State Department said were "inappropriate".

Mr Robertson later apologised saying he was frustrated at Mr Chavez's constant accusations against Washington.

A senior representative of America's evangelical Christians says he is trying to meet Mr Chavez to apologise.

Mr Chavez said on Friday that Pat Robertson "was expressing the wishes of the US elite".

"If anything happens to me then the man responsible will be George W Bush. He will be the assassin," the Venezuelan president said at a public event. "This is pure terrorism."

Missionaries' safety

Earlier, the Rev Ted Haggard, president of the National Association of Evangelicals, said he was seeking a meeting with Mr Chavez to distance US Christians from the remarks.

He is in Mexico, where he is meeting a friend of Mr Chavez, and if all goes well he will travel on to Caracas for an encounter that could embarrass the White House.

Mr Haggard says he wants to secure assurances from Mr Chavez about the safety of American evangelical missionaries working in Venezuela.

The Venezuelan government temporarily suspended permits for foreign missionaries on Friday so regulations for preachers in the country could be tightened.

"We were already working on this, but these declarations have made us speed things up," said chief of the Justice Ministry's religious affairs unit, Carlos Gonzalez.

Political rivalry

On Monday, Pat Robertson told viewers of his influential TV show, the 700 Club, that the US should act on Mr Chavez's recurrent complaints that the US was allegedly trying to assassinate him.

"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," he said.

It comes amid tense relations between the two countries.

Washington regards the Venezuelan leader as a dangerous left-winger with ambitions to dominate South America, says the BBC Justin Webb in Caracas.

Mr Chavez - a friend of Cuban leader Fidel Castro - equally dislikes Mr Bush, and regularly suggests to his people that the Bush administration provides a military threat to Venezuela.

The two nations have recently broken off co-operation on combating illegal drugs, though America still buys Venezuelan oil. The nation is the world's fifth-largest producer.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/4188578.stm

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