Sunday, January 29, 2012

Hugo Chávez has but nine months to live, predicts Spanish newspaper ABC

Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez may have surpassed 2.5 million Twitter followers (he so reported today), but if the Spanish newspaper ABC is correct, those loyal fans could soon be in for a big disappointment.

In June 2011 Chávez admitted that he has cancer, but he repeatedly refused to disclose the type. He was operated on by Cuban doctors last summer, and returned to the island several times for multiple rounds of chemotherapy. After his last treatment he pronounced himself cured ( Chávez said that he was tired and weakened from the procedures, but predicted that he would soon be ready to hit the campaign trail. Venezuela's presidential election is October 7.

The ABC news story was published on Jan. 24, and purports to be based on a Dec. 30 medical examination of Chávez. The paper says that an original prostate cancer, first discovered in January 2011, has now metastasized to his bones and spinal cord, and that Chávez has a tumor in his upper colon as well. Unless the president consents to further aggressive treatment -- something which sources have indicated he is not disposed to do -- his life expectancy is no more than nine months, ABC reported. The paper also claims that a plan to secretly fly Chávez to Moscow for advanced treatment was abandoned after he responded poorly to several rounds of chemotherapy administered in Havana.

In November Roger Noriega, a former U.S. ambassador to the Organization of American States, made very similar predictions. He wrote that president Chávez was gravely ill and had been given a "sobering" diagnosis, with no more than six months to live. Noriega claimed that his information was based on inside sources close to the Chávez government in Caracas, who have allegedly reported that Chávez will not survive until the country's October 2012 elections. But the Venezuelan president has repeatedly declared he intends to be a candidate and is ready to mount a vigorous re-election campaign. Chávez has ruled Venezuela since 1999.

In September Noriega told U.S. officials that they should prepare for "a world without Hugo Chávez" ( On a website Noriega wrote that "Washington policy makers appear unprepared to deal with the chaos that will ensue as the most corrupt members of the Chávez regime plot to retain power, and as the state-run economy collapses."

Last fall Noriega also claimed that his sources, as well as "privileged documents" which he had seen, had confirmed that Chávez has prostate cancer, and that "it had spread to his lymphatic system, colon and bones even before Chávez agreed to seek treatment."

The ambassador reported that the U.S. knew of Chávez' cancer six months before the Venezuelan president publicly acknowledged it. He has accused American diplomats of "consciously averting attention from Venezuela for years, to avoid having to confront the growing threat posed by a decade of Chávez conspiring with (U.S) enemies and rivals."

Noriega also wrote that Chávez' family has urged him to resign. But the president has refused to do so, according to Noriega, and he has also refused to submit to more therapy and treatments, which exhaust him. Noriega claims that Chávez' is determined to project the image of an engaged, physically healthy leader.

In October a Venezuelan physician gave an interview to a Mexican news magazine, confirming the same dire prognosis. The doctor, who did not participate in Chávez' cancer treatment last year, claimed to have been one of the president's regular physicians for many years. He told the magazine that Chávez had "a pelvic tumor, a sarcoma, very aggressive, with the life expectancy being no more than two years." The doctor claimed that his information came directly from members of Chávez' immediate family.

A few days later, the doctor fled Venezuela. He told a newspaper website that he was visited by Venezuelan security agents soon after the magazine interview was published, and that they had closed down his clinic. According to Noriega, the Chávez' family asked the doctor to release the president's medical information, with the hope it might persuade the Venezuelan leader to resign. Obviously the plan didn't work.

Noriega also wrote last year that a number of Venezuela's top military brass are directly involved in narcotics trafficking, and that they will fight to retain power after Chávez is gone. He added this warning: "U.S. planners must be prepared to deal with the short-term impact of unrest in a country where we import about 10 percent of our oil. Washington must also develop a plan to help Venezuelans clean up the toxic waste of terrorists, narco traffickers, corruption, and Cuban agents that Chávez will leave behind."

Update Feb. 16, 2012: El Nuevo Herald, a Miami Spanish language newspaper, today reported that Chávez' cancer has spread to his liver. It cites most of the same sources referenced in this post, and in the previous ones which I have linked.

Noriega's report on Hugo Chávez:
Venezuelan physician offers dire prognosis for Hugo Chávez:
Venezuelan physician flees country after visit by state security:
Hugo Chávez on Mitt Romney:

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