In his first American broadcast interview since the Rev. Pat Robertson called for his assassination last month, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez told ABC News' Ted Koppel today that he has evidence of a United States plan to invade Venezuela. In New York for the U.N. Summit, Chavez discussed his strained relationship with the United States government, Robertson's comments and the United States' dependence on Venezuela's oil supply.
Following is a rush transcript of the interview, which airs tonight on "Nightline" at 11:35 p.m. ET.
KOPPEL: Tell me a little bit -- most Americans don't know very much about you. Tell me a little bit about your youth, when you were a young man.
CHAVEZ (THROUGH TRANSLATOR): I would like to welcome you. And I would like to greet all of the people who are watching this program and who are listening to it. I was a farm kid from the plains of South Venezuela, from a very poor family. I grew up in a palm tree house with an earthen floor.
And later, we were lucky enough, my brothers and I, to be able to study. There were six of us. My father and my mother were both teachers. They inculcated to us the importance of studies. But out of every 100 children from my town, 99 didn't get to study. That was poverty, the poorest of the farmers.
Later, I was a young athlete. I was telling this friend here from San Francisco so that one of my greatest dreams was to be a pitcher for the San Francisco Giants. I played a lot of baseball. It was a passion of mine.
I painted. I wanted to be a painter. I sang. I still sing a little bit. I still paint a little bit. And I can still bat a bit.
But afterwards, when I was 16, I became a soldier. But I became a soldier, not because I had a military vocation initially, but because it was the only way that that young, poor-class child from the provinces could go to the center of the country: through baseball, which was my dream.
But I liked the army. And I became a patriotic soldier. And that's what I am, essentially, a patriotic soldier.
KOPPEL: I read that you discovered later in your life that your grandfather or your great grandfather was a guerrilla fighter. Is that correct?
CHAVEZ (THROUGH TRANSLATOR):That was from a previous time, a hundred years ago. Yes, he was a great grandfather of mine.
But the point is that when I was a kid, I would hear stories from my grandmother and my great grandmother -- you know, when they talk -- grandmothers tell stories.
And when I was a kid, I heard that I had a murderous grandfather. And that stuck with me.
But later, when I became a man, and I was reading the history of my fatherland, a history that starts in the 20th century, I conciliated myself to the fact that he was not a murderer; he was a guerrilla. He was one of the last men on horseback. This was the time of Pancho Villa. This was the time of Emiliano Zapata. This was the time of San Dino (ph). This was the time of (inaudible) the gentleman of hope in Brazil (inaudible). He was one of those last horsemen who took on imperialism.
My great grandfather was one of them. I discovered the truth.
KOPPEL: You're a man who loves language. You're a man of many words. I'm going to put you to a test now.
Give me three words that describe you.
CHAVEZ (THROUGH TRANSLATOR):A soldier-esque man. I would add the word "patriot." I would add the word "revolutionary."