Thursday, November 10, 2011
Ex-diplomat says Chávez has 6 months; warns of Venezuelan "narco-generals"
Roger Noriega, former U.S. ambassador to the Organization of American States, claims that his sources have told him Chávez will not survive until the country's October 2012 elections. The Venezuelan president has said he intends to be a candidate and is ready to mount a vigorous re-election campaign. Chávez has ruled Venezuela since 1999.
In June Chávez admitted that he has cancer, but he has repeatedly refused to disclose the type. He was operated on by Cuban doctors last summer, and has returned to the island several times for multiple rounds of chemotherapy. After his last treatment Chávez pronounced himself cured (http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2011/10/hugo-chavez-says-hes-clean-cancers-gone.html). He said that he was tired and weakened from the procedures, but predicted that he would soon be ready to hit the campaign trail.
Ambassador Noriega made similar predictions in September, when he told U.S. officials that they should prepare for "a world without Hugo Chávez," or one with a greatly reduced Chávez presence. But his latest warning appears to carry a greater sense of urgency.
Noriega claims that his sources, as well as "privileged documents" which he has seen, confirm that Chávez originally suffered from prostate cancer, but that "it had spread to his lymphatic system, colon and bones even before Chávez agreed to seek treatment." Noriega calls the current prognosis "sobering," and says 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."
The ambassador says that the U.S. knew of Chávez' cancer at least six months before the Venezuelan president publicly acknowledged it. But he accuses 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."
A website for which Noriega writes says that Chávez' family has urged him to resign. But the president has refused to do so, 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 a curious footnote to this story, the website says that Chávez' own family was behind the October release of a Venezuelan physician's statements to a Mexican news magazine, confirming the dire prognosis. The doctor, who did not participate in Chávez' recent cancer treatment, claimed to have been one of the president's regular physicians for many years. He told the magazine last month that Chávez had "a pelvic tumor, a sarcoma, very aggressive, with the life expectancy being no more than two years." The doctor said that his information came directly from members of Chávez' immediate family. A few days later, the doctor suddenly 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. The Chávez' family allegedly asked the doctor to release the president's medical information, with the hope it might persuade the Venezuelan leader to resign. Obviously that plan backfired.
Noriega claims 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 adds 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, narcotraffickers, corruption, and Cuban agents that Chávez will leave behind."
Former Ambassador Noriega's Sept. 2011 warnings: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2011/09/venezuelan-president-hugo-chavez-in.html.
Venezuelan physician releases medical information about Chávez and then flees country: http://mexicogulfreporter.blogspot.com/2011/10/hugo-chavez-given-dire-prognosis-by.html;
at 3:49 PM