Dark force at work — or who killed Hugo Chavez?
Venezuela’s acting president isn’t pointing fingers, mind you, but facts are facts: In the 1940s, the imperialists to the north had “scientific laboratories testing how to cause cancer,” and 70 years later, Hugo Chavez died of, you guessed it, cancer. Coincidence? You decide.
Nicolas Maduro, who stepped up to replace Chavez pending an April 14 election, plans to name a scientific panel to investigate whether the president was “poisoned by dark forces that wanted him out of the way.”
“I’m not accusing the United States at this very moment,” he said. Of course not.
Venezuela’s government still won’t say what type of cancer afflicted Chavez, who traveled to Cuba for the first of four surgeries in June 2011. But Maduro is “almost certain” foul play was involved, because the cancer “broke with all the typical characteristics of this illness.”
Alas, attempts to expose the conspiracy are at odds with loyalists’ hope to have Chavez’s body preserved for eternal display, a la Lenin, Stalin and Mao. The chemicals used for long-term embalming would destroy the evidence, it turns out. Also, the body should have been refrigerated right away.
In fact, the normal embalming process, employed before Chavez’s body was put on public display March 7, probably rendered the scientific investigation pointless — unless the point was to remind Venezuelans about the Yankee menace in hopes that they’ll forget they have no electricity or milk.
That shtick worked for Chavez, but only because he had supplied Venezuela’s poor with food, shelter, education and health care in the days before his socialist revolution scared away foreign investors and his reckless spending tanked the economy. The next president — and Maduro hopes it will be him — won’t have a lot of favors to pass out.
Still, Maduro is doing his best to radiate Chavismo, mainly by making outrageous statements. He’s called opposition candidate Henri Capriles “a little princess” and a fascist. He’s suggested that Chavez, who is now “face to face with Christ,” had a hand in the selection of the first Latin American pope. He’s claimed that teams of assassins are trying to kill him and National Assembly President Diasdado Cabello, and that two “far right” American figures — both former members of the George W. Bush administration — are plotting to kill Capriles.
And of course, there’s that business about Chavez getting cancer from the “dark forces.”
As it happens, Chavez raised that suspicion himself in December 2011, calling for a summit of leftist Latin American presidents who’d recently been diagnosed with cancer: Argentina’s Cristina Fernandez (thyroid), Paraguay’s Fernando Lugo (lymphatic), Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff (lymphatic) and her predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (throat).
Like Maduro, Chavez professed that he wasn’t naming names. “I’m just sharing my thoughts,” he said, “but it’s very, very, very strange.”
Chavez also said he’d been warned by his friend and mentor, former Cuban President Fidel Castro. “Fidel always told me, ‘Chavez, take care. These people have developed technology. … A little needle, and they inject you with I don’t know what.’”
A few years ago, one of Castro’s former bodyguards wrote a book in which he claimed to have documented an astonishing 634 attempts to assassinate the Cuban strongman. The CIA was behind many of them, employing tactics that included poisoned coffee, snipers, a diving suit coated with biological warfare chemicals, a booby-trapped speaker’s podium and of course, the famous exploding cigar.
We’re not sure which is more improbable: that hapless American agents failed to kill Castro all those times, or that they got Chavez on the first try.