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Video & Transcript: Hugo Chavez Interview with CNN's Larry King!

On September 24, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was the guest on Larry King's CNN talkshow. In this interview, Chavez offered thoughts from the United States to Iran; from oil politics to the Gaza War; from his thoughts about assassination to his wishes when he was a child.


LARRY KING, HOST: Tonight, Venezuela's outspoken, headline making president Hugo Chavez. He called George W. Bush "The Devil" and now says it seems there are two Barack Obamas.

He counts Iran, Cuba, Syria and Libya as allies. He spends billions buying weapons from Russia and sells a whole a lot of oil to the United States. He's also the star of a new Oliver Stone documentary.

Venezuela's Hugo Chavez for the hour is next on LARRY KING LIVE.

Good evening.

From the Venezuelan Mission, about a block from the United Nations, it's our pleasure to welcome to LARRY KING LIVE, President Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela.

He addressed the United Nations a short time ago.

The president of the United States addressed the U.N. earlier.

And he said, Mr. President, he's calling for a new era in world relations.

What sort of relationship do you want now with the United States?

HUGO CHAVEZ, VENEZUELAN PRESIDENT (through translator unless otherwise noted): Hi, Larry -- or Larry King?

The King.

KING: Any way you want.

CHAVEZ: Well, us and the whole world, we want relations based on respect -- relations of peoples where we are respected. Most governments in the United States in a hundred years have not respected the peoples of Latin America. They have sponsored coup d'etats, assassinations.

It's enough. We want to be brothers and sisters. We want respect and equality. Simon Bolivar, our father, said a balanced world -- a universe -- a balanced universe in order to have peace and development.

KING: Do you expect it to be better with President Obama?

Of course, you called him -- now, you said there are two Obamas. Well, what do you mean?

CHAVEZ: I explained this already. We have an Obama that talks about peace yesterday, to sponsor peace, to promote peace. And one of the pillars of his foreign policy I accept this calling and we join him in this calling for peace.

However, there is another Obama -- the one who approved the installation of seven military bases. That's another Obama -- the Obama sponsoring war; using food and the presence of military officers and using the U.S. weaponry against Latin America. We want to see the Obama of peace.

I shook hands with that Obama. That's the Obama we want. The world needs a true leader, an Obama that promotes peace and understanding in the world.

KING: But don't you add to it when you call President Bush a devil or you call -- as you called President Obama once -- an ignoramus?

Don't you think that insults, Mr. President, don't harbor peace?

CHAVEZ: Well, if you talk about insults and name calling -- well, if we withdrawal the insults on those name calling, then we can have peace?

Well, we need to do that, but all of us.

Now, how Bush called me?

The U.S. -- the -- the Bush government toppled me. They asked for my assassination. They disrespected us.

We reply in the firm manner, in the hard manner, but it's not the way you call a president or a human being. I said today it doesn't smell sulfur anymore in the United Nations. I want that we have new winds -- winds of hope.

Now who has been insulted?

It's us. Bush aggressed and used the world.

KING: How do you know -- know -- how do you know they tried to assassinate you?

How do you know that?

CHAVEZ: I saw my assassins. At dawn, I was a prisoner in Venezuela, being a president. They took me to the seaside.

I was debating with those who wanted murder me. They received the order to kill me. However, at this very moment, a group of soldiers refused. They did not kill me, but I saw those who wanted to kill me and the order came from the White House. There is no doubt in my mind. The same thing as they ordered to kill Salvador Allende and to kill Che Guevara and to kill Ojeda Rios. And the same thing to bombard Panama, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic.

That's our history and we want a new time. We want peace.

KING: Be that as it may, true or not, that's the past. Let's look to today. You are spending billions buying new weapons, large amounts from Russia, reports say tanks and rockets.

Why does your country need all these weapons?

What is the threat to Venezuela?

CHAVEZ: Well, that's the story they are telling around. All countries have a defense system. The United States have one.

How much do you spend in weapons daily -- atomic bombs, steel planes?

Who his the country that is sponsoring war around the world?

Now, Larry, for a long time, Venezuela has bought these F-16 planes manufactured in the United States. They do not sell us, however, the spare parts. So most of them cannot fly. Transportation planes -- you don't sell us the spare parts; also, surveillance planes to fight against drug trafficking. The U.S. government does not sell us the spare parts.

Now we have resorted to other options, to have at least the minimum required for our defense. But who can accuse us of arms race, the United States?

KING: But who do you -- the United States...

CHAVEZ: That's ironical.

KING: The United States had a 9/11.

Who do you fear?

Who do fear is going -- what country is going to harm you?

CHAVEZ: What did you say?

KING: Who -- what country...


KING: What country do you fear will harm you?

CHAVEZ: The empire. The empire. Seven military bases, gringo military bases in Colombia. That's a serious threat against Venezuela. Let's see the reality. That's the reality. The Colombian government, for instance, attacked Ecuadorian territory a year ago based on the principles of the preventive wall -- the same used by Israel to attack the Gaza Strip.

Venezuela has the largest oil reserve and Venezuela has to defend itself. That's what we are doing.

Now, I repeat, who can criticize us, the United States?

On what grounds -- that Venezuela is equipped with the minimum required to defend itself to ensure it -- assure the sovereignty of its country?

Can you criticize that?

KING: We'll be right back with President Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela, at the mission in New York.

Don't go away.


KING: You're watching LARRY KING LIVE.

We're back with President Chavez of Venezuela.

Secretary Clinton, the secretary of State, says that she is worried about your country, that you could trigger a regional arms race. She wants to make sure that the weapons that you have don't end up with insurgent groups and drug traffickers.

Is she right to be worried?

CHAVEZ: I think she's totally lost.

KING: Lost?

CHAVEZ: And you should be concerned. Yes, she's lost. She -- she has lost her way and you should be concerned you didn't have attacks on this country. Your State secretary is totally lost. She is totally wrong.

I think the United States and the secretary of State should be concerned about the poverty in this country -- people without health insurance. The United States should stop being the empire and be concerned about other countries. You've got to be more worried about your own people.

Now, let me tell you this, Larry, in Venezuela, our defense budget -- and pay attention and I'll tell you this. Our defense budget is one of the lowest of the whole hemisphere. You know, Colombia has a very high defense budget thanks to the support of the U.S., the U.S. president, the Pentagon. Colombia has 10 times more -- spends -- expenditures in military weapons than Venezuela. Venezuela is half that amount. Do you know how we spend our money?

In education, health care, schools, culture. That's the core element of our policy. Now, you want to present us -- Chavez -- as the arms race. We want peace, culture, education, health. That's the core -- the center of our attention. Well, the secretary of State is totally lost in her analysis.

KING: But shouldn't -- based on what you say, shouldn't Colombia worry a little about you?

CHAVEZ: No. We have given Colombia affection or an open hand, open arms. I consider myself Colombian and I want for them the same thing I want for us because Colombia was -- they get wide homeland built by Bolivar. I consider myself Colombian. We want peace in Colombia.

And I said to Obama in Trinidad & Tobago, when he approached me to say hello and he was very gracious. And I told him, "Obama, why shouldn't we do something for Colombia? Let's open a key committee -- commission."

And now Obama has stolen bases in Colombia to promote death and war. He is wrong. Mrs. Clinton is wrong. Obama should be consistent with what he suggested, which is to promote peace.

KING: Do you support rebels in Colombia?

CHAVEZ: No. Of course not. Never. I endorsed peace in Colombia. Larry, the first time and the only time I met with guerilla leaders was at the request of the Colombian government, Pastrana, 10 years ago. He wanted peace. And now Uribe asked me to receive some insurgents in order to foster peace.

I want peace, peace, peace in Colombia. And I ask for help to -- to this country to achieve peace in Colombia.

KING: We'll be right back with President Chavez.

Don't go away.


KING: We're back with President Chavez of Venezuela.

You have a close relationship with Iran. And there have been huge protests in Iran over the past election.

Why do you support a government who's had so much bloodshed, whose presidential election is in question?

Why do you support Iran?

CHAVEZ: Well, we support each other and we have the right to do that -- we do that. We are sovereign nations because we have an excellent cooperation relation in the field of health. We manufacture medicine, technology, technology transfer for food production in Venezuela, we're installing milk processing plants to develop agriculture, to produce food. We have political cooperation.

Now, the internal situation in Iran, that's an internal situation. I do not meddle in those internal situations in affairs in Iran. And the same thing with Iran. The same thing with the U.S. You have relations with many countries.

Are we going to blame the U.S. for having relations with dictators and monarchs?

Israel, for instance, the United States -- you support Israel and Israel is a genocidal government. Iran has not invaded anyone. The Iranians have a revolution. The previous leader was the shah. He -- this is democracy in Iran with the Islamic style. But you have to be respectful.

KING: Mr. President, you said in Tehran on a recent trip that the Iranian government was going to help your government develop nuclear technology.

Why -- why do you need nuclear technology?

CHAVEZ: I've never said -- they have fooled you. I've never said that Iran is going to help us to have nuclear technology. We -- there is the opinion -- and that's a strategy -- to attack Venezuela and say that we are building an atomic bomb. That's the next accusation.

And I'm going to say this now. Please, come on. That's crazy. That's crazy.

Now, I tell you, right, you don't destroy your nuclear arms -- and those people who could criticize who have those weapons. Obama said that they want a world without nuclear arms. Let me tell you this, we have signed with Russia -- with Russia, with Medvedev, a mechanism to develop, in Venezuela, nuclear energy -- nuclear energy. That is not a bomb, but energy.

Who manufactures the bombs and -- the nuclear bombs?

The United States and then other countries.

Who launched the nuclear bomb on Nagasaki and Hiroshima?

We want -- Brazil does and Argentina, France and many other countries -- we want to develop the nuclear technology for medicine, to develop energy, because one day, we will run out of oil. You don't see it. Our grandchildren might see it. We need to invest in technology to generate alternatives of energy. Nuclear energy is an alternative.

KING: We'll be right back with President Chavez of Venezuela.

Don't go away.


KING: Now there is something curious, Mr. President. You are friends with Iran and Cuba, Libya and Syria -- countries that are not friends with us.

Do you, just honestly, do you want to be friends with the United States?

CHAVEZ: Russia is not an enemy of the U.S. Libya is not an enemy. Iran, well, they have been aggressed by the United States and threatened by the United States. I want to be friends of everybody, Larry. I don't care about the internal political system of the United States. I want to be a friend of United States, of its baseball, its institutions, its rock and roll, its workers and its technology because we need it. I want to be friends of the Arab people, of the Persian people, of the Asian people. I was just talking to the president of Vietnam. We need to know those worlds in the world, what different worlds. We need to be respectful and we need to learn to live in this world despite differences.

KING: Why do you -- you denounce Israel, which is not in your part of the world. You -- you support the president of Iran. He denies that there was a Holocaust. Now, come on. You know there was a Holocaust.

CHAVEZ: Yes. But there also was another holocaust in South America. I do not deny the Jewish Holocaust and I condemn it. But in South America, when the Europeans arrived, there were close to 90 million Indians. Two hundred years later, we only had four million remaining. That was an holocaust. And the Europeans denied this holocaust. So we did have -- we might have different approaches. But you cannot demonize something because of their ideas.

How many did that -- believe that?

I do not believe this. I defend my ideas. But you cannot condemn someone because of his ideas or their approaches.

What happened in Gaza?


Jimmy Carter.

They killed how many children in Jakarta?

What is that?

Genocide. Thousands of families destroyed with bombs and towns. That's crazy. That's a genocide. In Africa, there was a genocide. Millions died.

KING: You do not think Israel is a beleaguered country?

Small little Israel, surrounded by enemies, is not a beleaguered country? CHAVEZ: A small country with atomic bombs and very aggressive country who invaded the Golan Heights. And he had to give them back to Syria. They have massacred entire families. It is a war-mongering country. And I discuss the Israeli people and the Jewish people that live in Venezuela. They are my friends. I respect them. I've prayed with them, respecting their beliefs, as I respect the Islam -- Islamic people.

One thing is this the Israeli people, another thing those who kill people. They have no mercy.

Did you read the statement of an Israeli officer recently?

He regretted what they did against Gaza last year because they killed everybody -- children, elderly, women.

KING: Are we ever going to have peace?

Are we ever going to have peace?

CHAVEZ: Yes, we want peace. Of course we want peace.

KING: We'll be back with the President of Venezuela in a moment.


KING: We're at the Venezuelan Mission next to the U.N. in New York City with President Chavez of Venezuela.

Your country, of course, very rich in oil. In fact, you claim to have the biggest oil reserves in the world. You're a larger of exporter world -- of oil, rather -- to this country, the United States.

Doesn't your economy need America?

CHAVEZ: We all need America. America needs us. And we need America. That's for sure. Yes, we are large oil exporters.

KING: Isn't it in your best interests to treat -- to have a peace with America, to be in concert with America?

I mean you're interdependent.

CHAVEZ: Yes, of course. No doubt. In my first government, I had good relations with the Clintons. I came to the White House. We met here in New York several times. We spoke on the phone. And I said to Obama and I said to Mrs. Clinton in Trinidad, we want -- I want to be as close with you as I was with Mr. Clinton. The thing is that Bush destroyed everything with the coup d'etat, with the sabotage. He ordered my assassination. They destabilized Venezuela, following Bush's orders. We want with Obama to come back to the Clintonian times. Despite all the problems with Bush, we always sent you 1.5 million barrels of oil. And we have here in United States Citgo that processes two million barrels a day. And they provide 10,000 gas stations in the United States. And they have the program to help the poor and the needy. Providing heating oil to the poor and need here because poverty is very important in United States.

KING: Will you ever cut off oil to the United States?

CHAVEZ: I didn't do this the time of Bush. I would never do this now. But even during the coup, that's my commitment. And we send oil to our oil company here. That's business. And we are sending oil over to China, to Europe, to the Caribbean, to South America. Venezuela, Larry, our reserve, could last 150 years.

Once we run out of oil on this earth, there will be four or five countries with available oil: Russia, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. The world will depend on us and we want to entertain the best relations investing in resources to be able to sustain and to meet the large energy needs of the world.

The United States do not have the reserves required. We want to have good relations with the US.

KING: With all your oil, why aren't you doing better economically? Why is there poverty in your country and unemployment? With all the oil you have, you should be dominant.

CHAVEZ: Well, let me tell you this. Venezuela, when I became president, poverty in Venezuela was almost 60 percent. Today, it's below 30. We met the millennium goal. Extreme poverty was 24 percent, now it's seven percent, and it keeps on going down. Unemployment was close to 20 percent. Now it's close to six percent, better than the US. Here, unemployment has increased.

The world crisis has not affected us. We have improved employment. The -- and child mortality has improved. And I know that you are a generous person. You have a foundation to help children suffering from heart diseases. I invite you to visit our heart hospital, built by the revolution in Caracas, the biggest of the hemisphere. We are operating 1,500 children every year, free of charge.

We have a health care system that's taking care of 15 million inhabitants and there's free distribution of food, donated to the poor people. And it serves 40 percent of the population. Venezuela has changed in a dramatic fashion. We have distributed the income.

KING: More with Hugo Chavez right after this.


KING: We're back with President Chavez. We're in New York City.

In February, you won a referendum that lifts term limit. Some fear that you are power-hungry and you want to be president for life. Is that true?

CHAVEZ: No. I want to serve my country as long as my people want. We had a referendum and this is a constitution that's being enforced for 10 years. We have created a participatory democracy, moving away from the liberal democracy -- the democracy of the rich and the elite against the poor. The people decided to amend the constitution, and opening the possibility not only for the president, but also to the mayors, to governors, to the deputies. They can be elected without time limits.

KING: You are a full democracy?

CHAVEZ: Full democracy, no. A democracy in development, in progress. We want to have more democracy and hopefully one day we achieve full democracy.

KING: President Carter -- who you recently mentioned favorably -- said recently that you were becoming too authoritarian. He made the remarks in the Colombian newspaper "El Tiempo". He said that, "Chavez is consolidating all political power in his office at the expense of an independent judiciary." True?

CHAVEZ: Yes, I read that and I regret for him, because I think he's totally confounded and lost. It's a long time since he visited us. I respect him enormously, but I think he is wrong. He's a victim of so much falsehood in the world. He knew Venezuela before Chavez, when there was extraordinary power concentration.

We are distributing power. We need to transfer power to the people. We are creating the people's power, and I wish he visits us and see the communities -- the communities, the -- he's wrong. No one is perfect, of course.

KING: You're inviting him to --

CHAVEZ: I invite him because he's a serious person and I'm concerned that he's totally wrong now.

KING: How about silencing your critics, Mr. President? Fears you're going to shut down Global Vision, the remaining independent television station in Venezuela. In fact, some say that is a certainty, you're going to close down that television. Are you?

CHAVEZ: It's not the last independent network in Venezuela. We have hundreds of independent networks in Venezuela. Independents are those who do not belong to the state. I mean, they are not independent. They depend on the owners, of course. They are not independent. There is no freedom of speech.

Now, I said to journalists a while ago, never in Venezuela we had so much freedom of speech as now. You know Chomsky, right? He went to visit us recently. Some Venezuelan media supported openly the coup d'etat. They have called for my assassination, such as Pat Robinson said had to be murdered. They repeat the same thing.

Chomsky said that in the United States, some networks like your network, for instance, where you work, they call for a coup d'etat and to murder the president.

KING: CNN called for this? Are you saying my network did that?

CHAVEZ: No, no, no. In case you say such a thing, you do such a thing, Chomsky said what would happen in the United States if something like that happened. Not only they will be closed down, but they will be put in the electric chair.

KING: Didn't you close 32 radio stations?

CHAVEZ: Not at all. That's a lie. Again, that's a lie.

KING: Are you --

CHAVEZ: Listen. Listen, there is a law. You accept that there is a law, right? If I have a car, I drive my car in New York and I go against the -- the rules, the traffic rules, I'm going to be detained. If I want to drive in a -- in a -- in a street in New York 120 miles, I will commit a crime. And there is a law in Venezuela, those who break the law, they lose their right to use the -- these networks, because they break the law. But in our country, we have hundreds of radio stations.

KING: Yes or no, my original question -- are you going to close Global Vision?

CHAVEZ: I do not know. It depends on them. If they keep on sponsoring coup d'etats, if they keep on calling for my assassination, if they keep on breaching the law even as well, it is not Chavez that's going to close them. I want to apply the law. We need to respect the law. It is the law. It's out of logic, and it's pure logic.

KING: Back with more right after this.


KING: We're back with Hugo Chavez. We're at the Mission in New York of Venezuela. He visited here and spoke to the U.N. earlier today.

Your friendship with Fidel Castro, very close?

CHAVEZ: Profound, very, extremely close. He's like a father to me, like a father, a political father. I admire him enormously. He is one of the greatest men of the 20th and the 21st century of this hemisphere and of the world.

KING: And he is a communist.

CHAVEZ: And what's wrong about that?

KING: You'd like -- you're not a communist. You don't support.

CHAVEZ: I am a socialist. Now, I prefer him as a communist than to the capitalist. I have friends who are capitalists. I'm not going to condemn them because they are capitalists.

Fidel, beyond his political ideas, he's a visionary. Fidel, he's the father of the Latin America revolution, and his ideas today are more alive than ever. I do not know if you have the time to read Fidel's reflections. It is a book now, and he is writing now that he has retired -- profound reflections on philosophy, the need to care about the environment of the planet.

And through socialism it's -- Fidel's path is the way to save the planet. It's not through capitalism that was born here in the United States.

You should reflect upon this. It is capitalism that was to blame for the great evils in this world, that was to blame for the crisis of this country and the rest of the planet. This socialism is going to save this planet. Rosa Luxemburg said socialism or barbarism.

KING: But Cuba has been oppressive. It has many political prisoners. You know that.

CHAVEZ: Cuba has a political system. It is a revolution. There are prisoners like you find them elsewhere. In Cuba there are election. People deny the truth about Cuba. In Cuba you have a people --

KING: All right. I got to get a break.


KING: We'll be right back.


KING: Back with President Chavez. What happens to Cuba after Fidel? I know he's not -- I know Raul now is charge, but basically what happens when Fidel goes?

CHAVEZ: Well, I think Cuba has a path already set. I know Cuba pretty well. Fidel is no longer in power. Its Raul, and Cuba keeps on building its socialism. Let's leave them alone.

Obama should -- as we requested him, all of us -- stop the embargo against Cuba. And Lula said this yesterday, and I said this today. It is absurd to block a country that becomes part of the 16th century. Obama should stop the embargo against Cuba. Let's leave them alone.

There are five Cubans in prison here for fighting against terror. Here in the U.S. there is a Cuban born prisoner who was the father of terrorism, and he is here protected. I've been asking for the -- requesting for him to go back to Venezuela.

And Posada Carriles, he has planted a bomb in a plane, and they killed a group of Cuban spokespersons, so I need to use this opportunity to ask Obama, President Obama, extradite the terrorist, Posada Carriles, to Venezuela. We are waiting for him. And comply with international law.

KING: Do you want to export your socialism? Do you want to spread to other countries, the Chavez socialism?

CHAVEZ: No. There is no Chavez socialism. That is ridiculous. Each country has its own sovereignty. Country has its own people, its own ideas, its own leaders. Each country should fill its own destiny. That's essential. That's part of the sovereignty of the people.

Venezuela has decided in democracy and in peace to go on the path of socialism. That's our right. We have the best of relations with all the -- the countries of the hemisphere, except for Colombia and the U.S., and that's regrettable.

But I am a good friend of -- friend of countries that speak several languages. We have good relations with all those countries, and we respect each other. There's no plan to export. We are exporting oil. That's yes. And we want to export chemical products and all that, but not the revolution.

KING: In our limited time left, some personal questions. What do you like about the United States?

CHAVEZ: Baseball. The people. Yesterday, I walked a little bit in New York. And the Secret Service people have been very gracious, very efficient, and very attentionate (ph), very kind. We walked with him -- with them, and we saw a group of people, women, elderly people greeting us. I love America the way I like Russia, Venezuela, Argentina. This is part of the world.

I like music. Yesterday, I met a lady who sings rock and roll, and we kissed. And I love the movies. Yesterday we went to see Oliver Stone and a group of actors -- Danny Glover. I love the movies. I was telling a person there that I love the movies of this guy Charles Bronson. I love this actor. Excellent actor. He died when he was very young, still young.

These are the most adventures. And baseball, the Yankee Stadium, Walt Whitman. I love those.

KING: All right. You've convinced me. We'll be back with our remaining moments with Hugo Chavez right after this.


KING: Some other notes before you leave us.

Would you invite our president to Venezuela?

CHAVEZ: Of course. Of course. I invite him any time. When we met, I told him, "Obama, I gave this hand to Bush eight years ago and I told him the same thing I'm telling you, I want to be your friend."

I wish him to -- to be with us. I met a number of trade union leaders and they asked me to buy a cracker factory. And we want to have the best of relations -- economic, social -- with these great countries, but not with an empire.

So I invite Obama, no problem. KING: Truth -- would you rather here have been a Major League baseball player than president of Venezuela?

CHAVEZ: It was my dream. It was my dream. I would have preferred, personally, to do that. However, since you do not decide what you're going to do. I went to the army because I wanted to be a baseball player. I became a soldier.

Then Venezuela just shattered and the -- the wind that found me president. But I am still that young baseball player who wanted to play in the Yankee Stadium.

KING: Would you rather have been a singer?

CHAVEZ: I love to sing. Well, I'm not a very good singer. Of course, a poet. I love poetry, singing, culture.

KING: Are you, then, misunderstood?

The image of you in America, are we wrong?

CHAVEZ: I'm just a man with many defects. I love. I sing. I dream. I was born in the countryside. I was raised in the countryside. (INAUDIBLE) manufactured by my grandmother. I loved to live -- to live. My children -- my two daughters are with me. And I want a better world for my grandchildren, for your grandchildren.

Now, they demonize me. But that's the start of these world campaigns to try to defend what you cannot defend, a system that is destroying the world. What we want -- what -- this is what I wanted. I'm a Christian. I want the world of justice and equality. This is the only way to achieve peace.

I was an altar boy. My mother wanted me to be a priest. I am very Christian and Catholic.

KING: Do you have faith?

CHAVEZ: Oh, a lot of faith, yes. I'm very faithful. I believe in God, in Jesus Christ. I love Jesus Christ. I am a Christian. And I feel like the cross of Jesus Christ, a world of injustice, inequities. I cry when I see injustice and justice -- people, children die of hunger. And you -- you see that -- you see that. I know you do. You feel the pain of others.

I'm faithful that there will be a better world. That's why I said today, it doesn't smell sulfur anyone. I want to smell a different world -- hope, faith, peace. We need to unite. The United States should unite with the South American countries to produce food, medicine, to fight against poverty, to take people out of poverty. That's our goal.

KING: We're, sadly, out of time.

I thank you.

CHAVEZ (Speaking English): Larry -- Larry King. Larry the king.

Larry the king.

Larry the king.

KING: The king.

Reader Comments (2)

many of the things he said are not true at all, for instance, he said that oil income is being invested in health care and education, but here in venezuela our hospitals are in a pretty bad condition, newborns die from bacteria infections because rooms are not healthy for births, surgeries or any other medical intervention, if you go to a hospital to get some treatment you need to buy your medicines when doctors are supposed to provide you those medicines, schools are a mess too, many kids have to atend classes outdoors as their classroom are not safe or are not provided with the items needed at a clasroom, about the tv stations being shut down, RCTV was shut down about 2 yeas ago by his (chavez) direct order, he has threatned to shut down globovision, and has started sanctionary procedures against that tv station repeatedly, two regional tv stations got shut down recently and about 32 radio stations are in the list as well, the reason: they are openly opposed to chavez ideals, insecurity and criminality are a major concern here too, hoodlums run free in the streets, kidnapping has become an industry that moves several millions of bolivares in venezuela, anyone can get kidnapped no matter if you are rich or poor, and it all happens while police goes after government opposers, student leaders, and anti chavez politicians. this guy (chavez) is a manipulator, a good liar, a dangerous man, government has become a power mafia in venezuela, they don't deal with people's troubles all they do is to remove anyone that stands on their way, dont believe me? then google raul isaias baduel and find out what happened to him and why he's in prison now

September 29, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterno+chavez

I am an American who has been living and teaching in Venezuela for the last three years. I've had an opportunity to observe the programs that the Chavez government has initiated through its special programs, called Missions.

The Missions have vastly reduced illiteracy and provided high school and university education to millions who never had access to it before. Through the medical Mission, thousands of free medical, dental and optical clinics have been openned in neighborhoods where, previoiusly, there was no access to professional health care at all.

Another Mission is providing low interest loans so people can buy their own houses, while others subsidize the creation of small business and workers' cooperatives. There are government subsidized markets and restaurants which are open to everyone. Education is free here to the doctoral level and students receive "becas" or living expense subsidies as well.

Citizen participation in decision-making has been been brought down to the community level, where "consejo comunals" or community coucil are given government funding to improve their local community, with the community particpating in the planning and execution of the projects. My apartment complex's "consejo comunal" has passionate meetings about local problems and we are in the midst of installing new water pipes and a children's play area, funded by government subsidies.

All these programs are deperately needed in the United States, yet our media demonizes President Chavez. Why? Because our corporate owned media is terrified that if Americans learn about the great programs operating in Venezuela, we would demand them too. This would not increase corporate profits so the media corporations publish false stories denigrating President Chavez and his government.

President Chavez is a great visionary who puts the human needs of his citizens ahead of corporate profits, just as he puts his oil profits to improving the lives of his people. We in the United States desperately need a leader like that too.

No, President Chavez is not perfect. Venezuela has certainly not reached perfection. There is still some poverty, but it has been greatly reduced. There is still some unemployment, but it too has been vastly reduced. Relatively, there is much less poverty and unemployment here in Venezuela than in the U.S. right now. Venezuela does have a crime problem, but crime is a problem everywhere today. His government has been taking major steps to reform his police forces and involve community councils in solving the crime problems.

President Chavez is a born teacher -- he loves reading and loves telling his people about what he has read. A new Mission passes out books free on street corners throughout the country. Copies of the Constitution and the country's laws are sold on many street corners. Venezuelans are encouraged to educate themselves, culturally and politically.

There are hundreds of newspapers available here, many, if not most, owned by private companies who openly oppose the Chavez government. Criticism of the Chavez government is freely published and broadcast. Freedom of Speech is alive and vigorous here.

The Chavez government is falsely criticized by our media for its defense budget, when it spends much less money on defense that other South American country, and spends a fraction of the U.S.'s miltiary budget. (5 billion as opposed to 800 billion).

The U.S. is building 7 new military bases in Colombia, one right on the Venezuelan border. Venezuela has zero military bases in other countries, and has never invaded another country. How dare the U.S. government complain about Venezuela's military budget, when the U.S.'s new military bases in Colombia are such a clear threat to Venezuela?

Larry King is to be congratulated for interviewing President Chavez. One hopes that others in the U.S. media will allow the truth about this good, peaceful man to be printed and broadcast.

September 29, 2009 | Unregistered CommenterJustina

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