CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuela’s vice president on Monday rejected as “crazy” accusations by American religious broadcaster Pat Robertson that President Hugo Chavez once sent money to al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden.
click here Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel said the allegations appeared aimed at tainting Chavez’s image and should be analyzed by “a team of psychologists … because it is so irrational.”
“He’s crazy, at the very least,” said Rangel, adding that U.S. officials should have immediately condemned Robertson’s remarks.
Robertson said on CNN’s “Late Edition” on Sunday that the Venezuelan leader sent “either $1 million or $1.2 million in cash” to bin Laden after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks in the U.S.
Asked where he got his information, Robertson cited “sources that came to me. That’s what I was told.”
Venezuela’s ambassador to Washington, Bernardo Alvarez, said Robertson’s accusation came from an earlier claim that was the basis of a Florida lawsuit, which was dismissed by a federal judge more than two years ago. Officials have said the original accusation was made by an ex-pilot of Chavez’s presidential plane.
“The only million dollars that Venezuela turned over was to the U.N. High Commission for Refugees, to help Afghan refugees… and there is sufficient proof of that,” Alvarez said, according to a Foreign Ministry statement.
Officials have also said another US$1 million was made through the U.N. agency that year for humanitarian aid after an earthquake in India.
– Proverbs 17:28
Alvarez said Robertson “is a person who doesn’t have credibility in the United States… a reverend who constantly violates the Commandments and is a sinner.”
Robertson, the founder of the Christian Coalition of America, caused an uproar in August by suggesting Chavez should be killed. He later apologized.
In his appearance on CNN, Robertson said: “This man (Chavez) is setting up a Marxist-type dictatorship in Venezuela. He’s trying to spread Marxism throughout South America. He is negotiating with the Iranians to get nuclear material.”
“One day we’re going to be staring at nuclear weapons and … it’s going to be a Venezuelan nuke,” Robertson said on CNN.
Rangel responded by saying “the atomic bomb is (President George W.) Bush in the United States.”
Earlier this month, Chavez said his government would start researching peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
Robertson criticized Chavez for having ties with Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi and for once writing a letter to Carlos the Jackal, the notorious terrorist imprisoned in France and accused in a series of Cold War era bombings.
“He’s made common cause with these people who are considered terrorists,” Robertson said.
Chavez strongly denies any links to terrorism and has in turn accused the U.S. government of “terrorist” acts across Latin America.
Chavez, a close ally of Cuban leader Fidel Castro, is up for re-election next year and says he fully supports democracy, denying opponents’ claims that he aims to lead a dictatorship.