Chavez’s absence stirs questions about his health
The staunchly anti-American leader has not addressed the public since June 12, when he told state television by telephone that he was quickly recovering from an operation performed two days earlier for a pelvic abscess.
His two-week absence and conflicting statements from the government stroked speculations Chavez might be seriously ill. Thus, on Saturday the Nuevo Herald newspaper cited an anonymous US intelligence official as saying that Chavez was in "critical condition" at a hospital in Havana.
When Reuters asked the US government for details, officials told them they had no firm intelligence on the issue.
The Venezuelan government accuses the country’s opponents of being overjoyed by the prospects of Chavez’s undermined health.
“The national and international right-wing are going crazy, rubbing their hands together… even talking about the death of the president," said Vice President Elias Jaua, adding that Chavez would soon return to his duties, without elaborating on the exact date.
Journalist and lawyer Eva Golinger calls the rumors “ridiculous,” pointing to officials’ statements and messages sent by Chavez himself through his Twitter account.
“He has been recovering from a surgery which he had several weeks ago, but he is certainly not in a critical condition,” said the journalist. “There is no alarm being sounded on an official level in Venezuela.”
Chavez has been running the South American country for 12 years without vacation or sick days, noted Golinger. This is the first time anything of the kind has happened to the Venezuelan leader, she says, so no wonder Venezuelans are alarmed and some are even shocked.
“The Western media, especially American media, are very keen to try to ‘aggravate’ his health situation, because from the point of view of the United States, there are many people who would love to see Hugo Chavez go,” said author and researcher Adrian Salbuchi. “So there are a lot of death wishes, no doubt, within the US, Europe and the UK, because of the fact that he has taken not just a staunchly anti-American stance, but a staunchly independent stance from the point of view of his country, Venezuela – a point of view which is shared by a lot of countries in Latin America.”
Eleven percent of the US’s oil imports come from Venezuela, Salbuchi pointed out. Therefore, the author says, the US’s efforts at regime change, which started in the Middle East and North Africa, might soon reach Latin America.
“Apparently, the global power elite operating from the US and from Britain is set on a global regime change as they move, I believe, closer and closer to a more formal world government,” concluded Salbuchi, adding that Venezuela would seem a logical start for bringing regime change to Latin America.