Caracas to probe claims that Chavez was poisoned by enemies

Acting President Nicolas Maduro has pledged to pursue a serious investigation into the claim, which was initially raised by Chavez himself after his diagnosis in 2011.

“We will seek the truth. We have the intuition that our commander Chavez was poisoned by dark forces that wanted him out of the way,” the acting head of state told regional TV network Telesur, adding that foreign scientists will be invited to join a government commission.

Chavez, 58, was diagnosed with cancer in his pelvic region in June 2011 and underwent four surgeries in Cuba before his death last week, which sources have attributed to metastasis in the lungs.

Acting leader Maduro said it was too early to specifically point a finger with respect to Chavez’s cancer, but noted that the United States had laboratories with experience in producing diseases.

“He [Chavez] had a cancer that broke all norms,” Maduro told Telesur. “Everything seems to indicate that they affected his health using the most advanced techniques … He had that intuition from the beginning.”

This development mirrors Chavez’s campaign to convince the world that Venezuela’s independence hero Simon Bolivar died of poisoning by his enemies in Colombia in 1830.

Maduro, meanwhile, has likened his suspicions over Chavez’s death to allegations that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat died from poisoning by Israeli agents.

The claim of outside interference has been derided by critics of the government, who view it as a typical Chavez-style conspiracy theory intended to fuel fears of “imperialist” threats to Venezuela’s socialist system and distract people from daily problems and pressing issues in the forthcoming election.

Maduro, 50, is the late president’s handpicked successor and is running as the government’s candidate in the April 14 snap presidential election occasioned by Chavez’s death.

The interim leader is trying to keep voters’ attention firmly focused on Chavez to benefit from the outpouring of grief and play on the emotions of his millions of bereaved supporters.

The opposition is responding by portraying Maduro, a former bus driver, as an incompetent who, they say, is morbidly exploiting Chavez’s demise.

Running for the opposition’s Democratic Unity coalition is business-friendly state governor Henrique Capriles, 40, who lost to Chavez in the presidential vote last year, but made the opposition’s strongest stand in Chavez’s 14 years in power.

Reprinted from Caribbean360

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