|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AUGUST 24, 2005
Global Exchange Calls for Republican Leadership to Repudiate Pat Robertson
WASHINGTON - August 24 - Call for Assasination of Democratically Electied Leader of Venezuela is Immoral, Illegal, and must be Investigated
Global Exchange strongly condemns the call of extremist right-wing televangelist and Bush supporter Pat Robertson for the assassination of democratically elected President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela. Global Exchange calls on Pat Robertson to immediately retract his outrageous statement. Pat Robertson, a candidate for the GOP´s Presidential nomination in 1992, along with the millions of supporters of his 700 Club, are a key constituency of the Republican Party.
Global Exchange, an international human rights organization, also calls on President Bush, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, and House Majority Leader Tom DeLay to condemn in the strongest terms possible these immoral statements of a leader of their political base, which make a mockery of Christianity and give lie to the Republican claims that they stand for the right to life. State Department spokesperson Sean McCormack today merely referred to Robertson’s statement as “inappropriate”. “Calling for terrorist homicide against a democratically elected president is not “inappropriate”; it is illegal, immoral, must be condemned in the strongest language possible, and must be investigated for potential violations of federal and international law,” said Deborah James, Global Economy Director of Global Exchange.
Pat Robertson should be investigated and potentially prosecuted for calling for the murder of a democratically-elected head of state. Under Title 18 of US Code Section 1116, “whoever kills or attempts to kill a foreign official, official guest, or internationally protected person shall be punished as provided under sections 1111, 1112, and 1113 of this title.” Section 878 of the same title makes it a crime to “knowingly and willingly threaten” to commit the above crime. (italics added) It is incumbent upon the executive to investigate, and potentially prosecute, this wrongdoing by Pat Robertson to the fullest extent of the law.
The US government has been working to create a climate hostile to the democratically-elected government of Venezuela. It is unfortunate that Pat Robertson’s statements are consistent with the actions of the Bush administration. The Bush administration supported the 2002 coup against President Chávez, and has continued to fund coup leaders in their efforts to remove President Chávez from office, even after the coup. Recently, the US has stepped up efforts to isolate Venezuela in the region. In August 2004, President Chávez won a referendum on his presidency by 59%, results which were certified by the OAS and Carter Center, and his popularity currently stands at over 70%. Yet earlier this week, Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld continued the Bush administration’s rhetorical assault against President Chávez, re-issuing old and unsupported claims regarding Venezuela. The US government’s ongoing hostility towards President Chávez have created the climate in which a Republican leader, a former candidate for the Republican nomination for president feels comfortable in calling for the United States to kill an elected head of state. If the US government wishes to give a veneer of credibility to its claims that they are not planning to kill President Chávez, it must forcefully condemn and initiate legal action against a key Republican ally for openly calling for his assassination.
The US government’s hostility towards Venezuela stems more from that country’s creation of an alternative economic vision for the hemisphere than any unsubstantiated concerns about democracy. President Chávez has embarked on a series of economic reforms, such as funneling billions of oil industry profits into massive programs for health care, education, literacy, and clean water, and promoting regional integration, which fly in the face of Bush administration’s failed efforts to promote corporate globalization by establishing a Free Trade Area of the Americas. “The US government’s dislike for Chávez’s vision of a national economy that delivers development rather than free trade does not give the US government – or US government supporters - a license to kill,” said Deborah James.
The US government has obligations under international law to prevent and punish acts of terrorism against foreign heads of state if those acts are conceived of or planned on US territory. The 1973 United Nations Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes Against Internationally Protected Persons makes it a crime to commit a “murder, kidnapping, or other attack upon on the liberty of an internationally protected person; .. [including] a “threat to commit any such attack.” An internationally protected person means a head of state (or other specified persons.)
The US is also a signatory to the 1971 Convention to Prevent and Punish Acts of Terrorism Taking the Form of Crimes Against Persons and Related Extortion that are of International Significance of the Organization of the American States, Article 8a of which obliges “[t]he contracting states undertake to cooperate among themselves by taking all the measures that they may consider effective, under their own laws, and especially those established in this convention, to prevent and punish acts of terrorism, especially kidnaping [sic], murder, and other assaults against the life or physical integrity of those persons to whom the state has the duty according to international law to give special protection, as well as extortion in connection with those crimes.” (italics added.) This includes foreign heads of state as internationally protected persons.
Global Exchange also calls for the investigation of the Christian Broadcasting Network for the potential illegality of using federally licensed airwaves to call for the assassination of a democratically-elected head of state. In light of the $550,000 fine against CBS for the accidental airing of a “wardrobe malfunction”, it would be ironic in the extreme if the CBN were not to be similarly punished for airing a call for terrorist homicide.