War : Chavez : Venezuela preparing for U.S. invasion


Richard Moore


Chavez warns U.S. against invasion 

United States says it has no plans 

PARIS, France (AP) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said
Thursday that his government is preparing for a possible U.S.
invasion, and he warned that such "aggression" would send
gasoline prices in the United States soaring.

The U.S. government repeated that it is not planning any such

Chavez, a vocal critic of "imperialism" and the Bush
administration, said he was not against the American people --
just the current government.

"We are sure that it will be very difficult for the United
States to attack Venezuela," Chavez said. He said his country
has eight oil refineries and 14,000 gasoline stations in the
United States.

"If the United States tried to attack Venezuela by a direct
invasion, forget the oil," he said during a two-hour news
conference beamed live to Venezuela. "Everyday we send 1.5
million barrels to the United States."

The barrel price of crude oil could hit $150 following a U.S.
attack, Chavez said. Currently New York light sweet crude oil
trades around $60 a barrel.

"That's why Pat Robertson, the spiritual adviser of Mr. Bush,
is calling for my assassination. That would be much cheaper
than an invasion," Chavez said.

Robertson, the U.S. religious broadcaster, said in August that
Chavez should be killed, then later apologized.

In Washington, State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said
Chavez's suspicions were unfounded.

"I've stated many times before, the United States is prepared
to work with any government in the region: left of center,
center, right of center. Our issue is with states that don't
govern in a democratic manner," McCormack said.

The Venezuelan leader used his news conference to trumpet what
he called his "alternative" vision of a world that works for
the poor rather than corporations seeking profits.

Chavez reiterated longtime claims that the United States
finances his opponents, seeks his ouster and sabotages efforts
to move his country forward.

"Venezuela is used to defending itself ... and fighting
imperialism," Chavez said, speaking in Spanish with a French

"We must be ready for an aggression," said Chavez, who
previously said Venezuela is organizing an expanded military
reserve and civilian defense units.

In an interview with the British Broadcasting Corp. radio
aired earlier Thursday, Chavez said he had evidence to prove
the U.S. government was planning an invasion.

Chavez said he believed the reason Washington was plotting an
invasion was to take control of Venezuela's oil fields.

Meanwhile, Israel canceled -- under American pressure -- a
lucrative deal to upgrade Venezuelan warplanes, Israel TV
reported Thursday.

The report said Israel was to install its own systems in
U.S.-made F-16 fighters for the Venezuelan air force, but the
U.S. government forced Israel to call off the deal. No dollar
figure for the deal was given.

Israeli Defense Ministry officials were not immediately
available for comment.

Copyright 2005 The Associated Press . All rights reserved.


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