President Maduro stopped just short of blaming the US for Chavez's death, but he made it clear that this nutzo conspiracy theory would get some legs.
Venezuela's acting president, Nicolas Maduro, said the country would open a scientific investigation to see whether late leader Hugo Chavez was poisoned "by dark forces that wanted him out of the way," Reuters reports.
"We are almost certain [that there was foul play] based on the data we have," Maduro said in an interview with a the Telesur network, according to CNN.
Maduro, who barely avoided explicitly saying the United States had poisoned Chavez, talked about "scientific laboratories [that were] testing how to cause cancer" in the U.S. in the 1940s and 1950s and asked whether that technology might have progressed since then, CNN adds.
This isn't the first time Maduro has claimed Chavez's death was orchestrated. On March 5, hours before the president's death was announced, Maduro said there was "no doubt" that Chavez's illness was caused by an "attack" by foreign enemies.
At the time, a spokesman from the U.S. State Department vigorously denied the accusation, calling it "absurd," according to the Washington Post.
Chavez himself made similar claims on more than one occasion. In 2011, he accused the U.S. of covertly poisoning Latin American leaders with cancer, and in 2005 he announced that if the U.S. succeeded in assassinating him, "the name of the person responsible is George Bush."
The State Department has repeatedly denied trying to kill Chavez.
Although the claims may seem absurd, a CIA report declassified in 2007 revealed that the U.S. had plotted to assassinate another socialist leader it considered a threat: Fidel Castro.
The plot, which relied on poison pills, according to a Washington Post report on the documents, was abandoned after the Bay of Pigs invasion, a failed CIA-orchestrated effort to remove Castro from power.
The HuffPo author is even kookier than Maduro. What's "absurd" about the plot is not that we've tried to overthrow murderous thugs like Chavez in the past, or that we didn't try to assassinate Castro. What is bizarre and loony is the idea that we - or anyone else - could give someone cancer.
Five South American presidents and former presidents, including Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, have been recently diagnosed with cancer. Chavez speculated on Wednesday that American agents may be inducing the disease in South American leaders by feeding them or injecting them with an unspecified substance. The State Department rejected Chavez's insinuation on Thursday. Can you give someone cancer?
Not reliably. Injecting cancerous cells into a person isn't enough to give him the disease-the abnormal tissue has to penetrate and grow in other areas of the body. If you injected someone with live cancer cells, his immune system would almost certainly attack and destroy the foreign tissue. In theory, secret agents might be able to induce cancer in a leftist South American president with a severely weakened immune system. Or perhaps they could harvest tissue from him, expose it to a carcinogen, and then reintroduce it into his body. As far as the Explainer knows, however, these techniques have never successfully caused cancer in a human.
So whatever "data" Maduro says he has is as bogus as the upcoming election for president in Venezuela will be.