Amidst the news of Hugo Chávez’s death yesterday, his vice president Nicolás Maduro also announced that he’d expelled two American diplomats from Venezuela for plotting against the government. Maduro also said that Chávez had been poisoned.
“We have no doubt that Commandant Chávez was attacked with this illness, we have no doubt whatsoever,” Maduro said. “The established enemies of our land specifically tried to damage our leader’s health. We already have leads, which will be further explored with a scientific investigation.”
Where did Maduro get this idea? Well, from Chávez himself. Back in December 2011, he gave a speech shortly after he’d been diagnosed with cancer and heard that Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, the president of Argentina, also had cancer, in which he proposed the possibility that the U.S. had targeted progressive Latin American leaders through some kind of cancer-inducing chemical warfare.
The video above has the speech. Below, my translation.
“It’s very difficult to explain at this point … based on the law of probabilities … what’s been happening to some of us in Latin America. At the very least, it’s strange. Very, very strange. I don’t want to make reckless accusations, no. But, just recently, I was watching TeleSur and saw our friend, the Guatelaman President Alvaro Colón handing the presidency over to General Otto Pérez. He was elected president just recently, in January. A general in the Guatemalan army whom I met back in the 80s, when I was in Guatemala for a few months for a course on civic matters and political warfare. Alvaro Colón was at this event asking for forgiveness for the Guatemalan government, and asking the United States to accept responsibility now that it had been proven, fifty, forty years after the fact, it was proven — it’s been proven — that the government of the United States, the CIA and I don’t know how many other entities, had launched a biological, chemical and radiological operation in Guatemala and contaminated countless Guatemalans with countless diseases. Among these, venereal diseases. All so they could perform some tests. That’s the United States right there. Would it be strange if they had developed a technology to induce cancer that nobody knows about now but which will be discovered in fifty or however many years? I don’t know. I’m just sharing my thoughts. But this is very, very, very strange that we should all get cancer: (Paraguayan president Fernando) Lugo, Dilma (Rousseff, president of Brazil), back when she was a candidate. Thank god, Lugo recovered from cancer and just look at him, leading battles in Paraguay and, yes, all over Latin America. And Dilma, well, thank god she too survived it. But that cancer put her presidential candidacy at risk. (Former Brazilian president Luiz Inácio) Lula (da Silva) couldn’t be re-elected. Then there’s me, bam, coming into an election year. And then a few days later, Lula. And now, Cristina. Well, it is a little hard to explain, isn’t it, to try to reason through it, even if you apply the law of probabilities. Fidel (Castro, former president of Cuba) always told me: ‘Chávez, be careful. Chávez, be careful, because you’re always all over everybody. Look, be careful. These people have developed all sorts of technology. You’re too careless. Watch what you eat, be careful with what you’re given to eat. Be careful with what have you — a small needle can inject you with whatever.’ But, you’re out there and you’re in God’s hands. In any case, I’m not accusing anyone. I’m merely using my right to reflect and to comment on these very strange events that are very difficult to explain. Be strong, Cristina. You’ll live. We’ll live. We will triumph for Latin America, for Latin America, for our people.”