A day after officials announced the cancer diagnosis of Argentina’s president, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez wondered Wednesday if the United States could be infecting the region’s leaders with the illness.
Five current or former Latin American presidents have battled cancer in the past few years, including Chavez himself, who claims to have beaten an unspecified cancer.
Chavez prefaced his remarks at a military event in Caracas by saying, “I don’t want to make any reckless accusations…”
Will it be discovered 50 years from now that the United States was infecting presidents with cancer, he posited?
“I don’t know. I’m just putting the thought out there,” Chavez said.
Yeah, because cancer is rare?!
Chavez is well established as a conspiracy theorist (or just paranoid). He now has his own meme.
UPDATE: 15-Jan-2012 BBC Magazine posts this story: Hugo Chavez’s US Cancer Plot Put to the Test
So, given what we know about cancer in Latin America, can we be sure the US has not used a secret health weapon against Mr Chavez and the other leaders?
Apart from his misunderstanding of statistics – or the “law of probabilities”, as he put it – another point to consider is that the different leaders have different types of cancer, and the biological mechanisms behind each are different.
Also, our bodies are in general pretty good at repairing any damage we do to them, which would complicate things for anyone trying to make a cancer-inducing weapon.
“Our body is extremely resistant to all the factors that could affect it. And when you need to produce cancer in an experimental manner you need to use huge amounts of drugs or huge amounts of toxins,” says Dr Cazap.
Along with other health experts the BBC has contacted, he doesn’t hesitate to conclude that Mr Chavez’s “very imaginative version” of events is “difficult to apply to the reality”.