Was Hugo Chavez
poisoned? Because his death occurred quite recently, we don't yet have anything like a full-fledged theory. Consider this post a preliminary data-dump featuring fact and speculation, and it's up to you to determine which is which. Here's what we have so far:
Venezuelan Vice President Nicolás Maduro
has claimed that American secret agents have succeeded in a plot to murder the South American president. Fox, surprisingly, gives this story relatively straightforward coverage.
The vice president compared Chávez’s cancer to that of the former Palestinian Liberation Organization’s leader Yasser Arafat.
“We have no doubt that Commandant Chávez was attacked with this illness, we have not a single doubt,” Maduro said. “The established enemies of our land specifically tried to harm the health of our leader.”
Maduro said he will order the creation of a “scientific commission” to look at this alleged conspiracy that Chávez was sickened through medical means.
“We already have leads, which will be further explored with a scientific investigation,” Maduro said.
Arafat died in 2004, less than a month after coming down with “flu-like” symptoms. Conspiracy theorists and some Palestinian leaders suggest that Arafat was poisoned medically by Israeli operatives.
Maduro has already expelled two U.S. diplomats whom he apparently considers linked to this alleged plot.
compares the death of Chavez -- he was 58 -- to the attempted poisoning assassination of Fidel Castro as well as the speculation surrounding Arafat, whose personal effects were found to contain polonium-210.
The ANSWER coalition has filed an FOIA request
to the CIA asking for more information on the death of Chavez. I don't expect much to come from that request, but it's worth a try.
That said, the CIA may be the wrong people to ask. Some of you may recall an earlier Cannonfire story
about the great Stratfor document dump.
Stratfor had developed an Israeli source who was relaying information about the health of Hugo Chavez. In an email, Friedman discusses how to handle a source:
"[Y]ou have to take control of him. Control means financial, sexual or psychological control... "
Lovely attitude, eh wot? The source, I suspect, is someone who works with Chavez' doctor. Chavez may want to check into that.
The relevant Stratfor document was written on December 6, 2011. Earlier that year, Chavez had been diagnosed with cancer and had undergone an operation in Cuba. Let's not go overboard, here: This story indicates that the Israeli was an informant, not an agent -- an important distinction. Moreover, the informant was obviously difficult to control. Whoever this fellow was, he probably was not responsible for "dosing" Hugo Chavez.
So what, then, does the Stratfor document prove? Simply this: The Israelis have been taking a very
close interest in Chavez' health. An unhealthy interest, you might say.
More recently, Stratfor has promoted the idea that Chavez actually died
some time ago -- a death that the Venezuelans have covered up, for God-knows-what reason. Those wishing to explore this claim further may want to visit the festival of disinformation here
. And pretty obvious disinformation it is. Note that the writer of that piece pointedly refers to the late president as "Commander Chavez," in an attempt to paint him as a typical Latin American military strongman, as opposed to the popularly elected leader he actually was.
For a slightly less odious disinfo exercise, see this piece
published in (I am sorry to report) the Atlantic.
Speaking of disinfo, Think Progress wants to make sure that we don't mourn for Chavez because he was such a harsh persecutor of Jews
. What TP doesn't tell you is that, back during the days of Reagan's covert wars, the U.S. media blared the exact same claims against Nicaragua's Sandinista leadership. The charges turned out to be bullshit then, and I'm sure that they are bullshit now.
These pieces in the Atlantic and TP should remind us of a general principle: Whenever a covert op goes down, the intelligence agencies always try to wedge a few disinfo pieces into liberal-ish or even left-wing journals. Sure, Fox News broadcasts propaganda all day long, and sure, much of the nation pays attention -- but an even greater number of people will dismiss everything the Ailes crew has to offer. So to insure the widest penetration, the spooks search for ways to slip a carefully-written version of their message into places like the NYT (think Judy Miller), the Nation, the Guardian, or Think Progress.
, for what it's worth, blames the Chavez death on the CIA. That's pretty much a reflexive reaction and I'm not sure many people will pay much heed to the charge. Pravda also brings Stratfor into the mix, thanks, once again, to the great Stratfor data dump made available via Wikileaks.
Now let's get to the really juicy stuff.
If you don't mind visiting one of the wackier sites on the internet, this comment thread
notes a strange pattern: Quite a few independent leaders in Latin America have contracted fast-acting cancers in recent times.
Lula - Former President of Brazil - Cancer of the larynx
Dilma - Current president - reversing cancer in the lymphatic system
Cristina Kirchner - Argentina's current president - Thyroid Cancer
Nestor Kirchner - Former president of Argentina - died of colon cancer.
Hugo Chavez - Venezuela's President - Prostate Cancer
Evo Morales - Cancer in the nasal cavities
Fernando Lugo - the Paraguayan President - lymph cancer
Ollanta Humala - President of Peru - Cancer in the gut
Evo Morales is the President of Bolivia. He is of Indian descent, and is an avowed socialist.
Before his death, Hugo Chavez himself noted the pattern. The following comes from a Spanish-language source
, the reliability of which is beyond my ability to gauge. Google did the translation, with a little "clean up" help from yours truly (and please feel free to correct any errors, if you know Spanish):
"It is very strange that cancer has given to Fernando Lugo (Paraguay), Dilma Rousseff, and then I come in a few days later, Lula, and now Cristina," Chavez said to the Armed Forces during the greeting ceremonies. "It would not be surprising to learn that they have already developed a technology to create cancer in us," he said, speaking of the United States.
An English-language source
The Venezuelan head of state backed his suspicions by citing evidence of clandestine chemical weaponry used by the U.S. military in Guatemala in the 1950s.
offers a toned-down version:
It was a typically controversial statement by Venezuela’s socialist leader, who underwent surgery in June to remove a tumor from his pelvis. But he stressed that he was not making any accusations, just thinking aloud.
“It would not be strange if they had developed the technology to induce cancer and nobody knew about it until now … I don’t know. I’m just reflecting,” he said in a televised speech to troops at a military base.
“But this is very, very, very strange … it’s a bit difficult to explain this, to reason it, including using the law of probabilities.”
Chavez, Fernandez, Paraguay’s Fernando Lugo, Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff and former Brazilian leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva have all been diagnosed recently with cancer. All of them are leftists.
In Chavez' case, the motive for assassination should be obvious. He has claimed that Venezuela will be the world's largest oil exporter
within a decade. Although Chavez probably overstated the case, no-one can deny that the country has become a huge player in the world of oil, and that its role will only grow larger.
Meanwhile, the right-wing press -- which usually wallows
in conspiracy theories -- either ignores or applauds the strange death of Hugo Chavez, and the even stranger cancer epidemic besetting all of the Latin American leaders who have managed to get onto Washington's shit list. In WingnutWorld, it's perfectly acceptable to claim that Obama was born in Kenya and that no children died in the Sandy Hook massacre. But if you suggest that the CIA might know how to induce cancer in an overly-independent leader of an oil-rich nation...
...why, that idea is just crazy