Venezuelan Vice-President Nicolas Maduro placing a sword that belonged to South American liberator Simon Bolivar on the coffin of late Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in Caracas, on March 8, 2013 (AFP Photo)
Venezuela is to formally investigate suspicions late President Hugo Chavez’s was afflicted 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.