MOSCOW, March 6 (RIA Novosti) – The death of Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez from cancer may have been part of a plot by the United States to infect its enemies in Latin America with the disease, the leader of Russia’s Communist party, Gennady Zyuganov, speculated on Wednesday.
“How did it happen that six leaders of Latin American countries which had criticized US policies and tried to create an influential alliance in order to be independent and sovereign states, fell ill simultaneously with the same disease?” Zyuganov said in comments carried by Russian state television.
“In my view, this was far from a coincidence,” said Zyuganov, the head of Russia’s second-largest political party. He urged an investigation under “international control” into Chavez’s death.
Zyuganov’s claim echoed accusations by Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro, who alleged last week that Chavez had fallen victim to an “imperialist” plot.
"The old enemies of our fatherland looked for a way to harm his health," Maduro said,
Chavez, who died on Tuesday at the age of 58 after an almost two-year battle with cancer, had himself speculated that the United States may have developed methods to infect its enemies with the disease.
"Would it be so strange that they've invented the technology to spread cancer and we won't know about it for 50 years?" Chavez - who once famously called former US President George W. Bush “the devil” - said in late 2011, after he had been diagnosed with the disease.
He was speaking a day after Argentina's President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.
"Fidel [Castro] always told me, 'Chávez take care. These people have developed technology. You are very careless. Take care what you eat, what they give you to eat … a little needle and they inject you with I don't know what,' he said in late 2011 after he had been diagnosed with cancer,” Chavez added.
Castro was himself the target of numerous US assassination plots, according to declassified documents published by the CIA in 2007.
Among the other leftwing Latin America leaders diagnosed with cancer are Brazil's current president, Dilma Rousseff, Paraguay's Fernando Lugo, and the former Brazilian leader Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.