Latinamericans are ever more suspicious of President George Bush intentions in the region, said Republican Senator Norm Coleman head of the Latinamerican Affairs Committee following a recent visit to several South American countries.
Mr. Coleman who represents Minnesota visited Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Uruguay together with Republican Senator Mel Martinez and Jeff Miller and said that the recent call by television evangelist preacher Pat Robertson to kill Venezuela president Hugo Chavez really pulled a trigger on suspicions.
"We were in Brazil at the time and several officials told us that many Brazilians believed the United States was intent in invading the Amazon for its resources", indicated Senator Coleman in a report from the Interamerican Dialogue magazine.
"They are convinced we went into Iraq for oil and if we went to Iraq for oil, what stop us from going after the richest region in natural resources in Latinamerica?", he added.
The Republican Senator insisted this point of view is even shared by academics "and people who think". "We're already facing some challenges regarding the perception of the US and what are our intentions in the region, and this type of remarks only add to the paranoia which unfortunately exits", he said.
Preacher Robertson's remarks, who later apologized, nevertheless generated further diplomatic irritation to the already difficult relations between Washington and Caracas.
President Chavez demanded a strong condemnation from Washington to Mr. Robertson words and requested legal actions against the preacher.
However the State Department said the ultra conservative former Republican presidential candidate was a "private citizen" but admitted his statements were "inadequate".