(Updates with U.S. embassy comment in sixth paragraph.)
Dec. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez hinted that the U.S. may be behind a “very strange” bout of cancer affecting several leaders aligned with him in South America.
Chavez, speaking a day after Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner was diagnosed with thyroid cancer, said the Central Intelligence Agency was behind chemical experiments in Guatemala in the 1940s and that it’s possible that in years to come a plot will be uncovered that shows the U.S. spread cancer as a political weapon against its critics.
“It’s very difficult to explain, even with the law of probabilities, what has been happening to some of us in Latin America,” Chavez said in a nationally televised speech to the military. “Would it be so strange that they’ve invented technology to spread cancer and we won’t know about it for 50 years?”
Chavez, who was diagnosed with an undisclosed form of cancer in June and had a baseball-sized tumor removed in Cuba, has called for a regional summit of leaders who have battled cancer including Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, her predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva and Paraguay’s Fernando Lugo.
“I’m just sharing my thoughts, but it’s very, very, very strange,” Chavez said. “Evo take care of yourself, Correa, be careful, we just don’t know,” he said, referring to Evo Morales and Rafael Correa, the leaders of Bolivia and Ecuador.
Thomas Mittnacht, press director at the U.S. embassy in Caracas, declined to comment when reached by telephone.
Chavez, a former tank commander who has led South America’s largest oil producer since 1999 and will seek a third consecutive six-year term in October elections, says that the U.S. was involved in a coup against him in 2002 that briefly ousted the socialist leader before he was reinstated by the military and supporters.
The 57-year-old leader also accuses the U.S. of plotting an invasion of Venezuela to capture its oil reserves.
Chavez, who continues to send the U.S. more than 800,000 barrels of oil a day, said that former Cuban leader Fidel Castro has warned him about assassination attempts after surviving what he has claimed are hundreds of plots by the U.S. since he took power in 1959.
“Fidel always tells me, ‘Chavez be careful, they’ve developed technology, be careful with what you eat, they could stick you with a small needle,’” the Venezuelan leader said today. “In any case, I’m not accusing anyone, I’m just using my freedoms to reflect and issue comments on very strange events that are hard to explain.”
--Editors: Philip Sanders, Harry Maurer
To contact the reporter on this story: Daniel Cancel in Caracas at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Joshua Goodman at email@example.com.