Venezuela to probe Chavez cancer ‘poisoning’ accusation
CARACAS - Reuters
In this July 5, 2012 file photo shows Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez. AP PhotoVenezuela will set up a formal inquiry into claims that deceased President Hugo Chavez’s cancer was the result of poisoning by his enemies abroad, the government said March 12.
Foes of the government view the accusation as a typical Chavez-style conspiracy theory intended to feed fears of “imperialist” threats to Venezuela’s socialist system and distract people from daily problems.
Acting President Nicolas Maduro vowed to open an investigation into the claims, first raised by Chavez after he was diagnosed with the disease in 2011. “We will seek the truth,” Maduro told regional TV network Telesur. “We have the intuition that our commander Chavez was poisoned by dark forces that wanted him out of the way.” Foreign scientists will be invited to join a state committee to probe the accusation, he said.
Maduro, 50, is Chavez’s handpicked successor and is running as the government’s candidate in a snap presidential election on April 14 that was triggered by the president’s death last week. He is trying to keep voters’ attention firmly focused on Chavez to benefit from the outpouring of grief among his millions of supporters. The opposition is centering its campaign on portraying Maduro, a former bus driver, as an incompetent who, they say, is exploiting Chavez’s demise.
“Let’s take the president (Chavez) away from the political debate, out of respect for his memory, his family, his supporters,” opposition candidate Henrique Capriles’ campaign chief Henri Falcon told reporters. Polls from before Chavez’s death gave Maduro a lead over Capriles of more than 10 percentage points. Capriles lost to Chavez by 11 percentage points in October.