Venezuela to probe Chavez cancer biowarfare conspiracy
Venezuela is to formally investigate suspicions late President Hugo Chavez’s was a victim of biowarfare, soft-killed with cancer after being poisoned by foreign enemies, the government said.
Acting President Nicolas Maduro vowed to set up an inquiry into the allegation, which was first leveled by Chavez after being diagnosed with cancer in 2011. Foreign scientists will also be invited to join a government commission to investigate the claim.
“We will seek the truth,” Reuters cites Maduro as telling regional TV network Telesur late on Monday. “We have the intuition that our commander, Chavez, was poisoned by dark forces that wanted him out of the way.”
Maduro said it was too early to determine the exact root of the cancer which was discovered in Chavez’s pelvic region in June 2011, but charged that the United States had laboratories which were experienced in manufacturing diseases.
“He had a cancer that broke all norms,” the agency cites Maduro as saying. “Everything seems to indicate that they affected his health using the most advanced techniques … He had that intuition from the beginning.”
Chavez reportedly underwent four surgeries in Cuba, before dying of respiratory failure after the cancer metastasized in in his lungs.
Maduro compared the conspiracy surrounding Chavez’s death to allegations that Israeli agents poisoned Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat to death in 2004.
In December 2011, Chavez speculated that the United States could be infecting the regions leaders with cancer after Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.
“I don’t want to make any reckless accusations,” Chavez said before asking:
“Would it be strange if [the United States] had developed a technology to induce cancer, and for no one to know it?” Maduro repeated the accusation last week on the eve of Chavez’s death.
“Behind all of [the plots] are the enemies of the fatherland,” he said on state television before announcing the expulsion of two US Air Force officials for spying on the military and plotting to destabilize the country.
In fact, there are well-documented cases of nations using biowarfare to eliminate enemies. “Natural epidemics of cholera and plague are frightening enough. The notion that rogue states or terrorists could harness these and other diseases as weapons of war is even more chilling. While rare, the use of biological weapons dates back centuries. …confirmed cases of biowarfare and bioterrorism, from medieval times to today … state-sponsored programs that could provide the seeds of future attacks,” Susan K. Lewis states in a NOVA report on bioterrorism.
Venezuela’s opposition has lambasted the claim as another Chavez-style conspiracy theory intended to distract people from real issues gripping the country in the run up to the snap presidential election called for April 14.
As Tuesday marked the last day of official mourning for Chavez, ceremonies are likely to continue, fueling claims by the opposition that the government is exploiting Chavez’s death to hold onto power.
While launching his candidacy on Monday, Maduro began his speech with a recording of Chavez singing the national anthem, sending many of his supporters into tears.