Saturday, June 25, 2011

Hugo Chavez in Critical Condition? Dead? Rumors are Flying

I commented previously about the unusual nature of having an unexplained pelvic abscess requiring emergent surgery. It just doesn't happen without some sort of provocation. Now we are getting word as to a possible explanation.

Yesterday the Real Cuba Blog commented that Hugo Chavez was "undergoing a critical clinical condition".

The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they could not confirm reports that the Venezuelan president is being treated for cancer of the prostate, which is the rumor that is currently being heard with increasing frequency in Venezuela's high places.

But the health of the Venezuelan president, who underwent surgery two weeks ago in Havana, "is in a critical state, not grave, but critical, complicated," said one of the sources, whose identity can not be revealed due to the sensitive location where he is.

On the other hand, the intelligence sources who have been following closely the situation in Caracas confirmed that Chavez's daughter, Rosinés, together with her mother, Marisabel Rodriguez, mysteriously left Venezuela for Cuba on an Air Force plane .
"Marisabel and her daughter left Venezuela in a hurry said another of the sources. "That was 72 hours ago." El Nuevo Herald (Spanish)

The Devil's Excrement calls it the best kept secret in Caracas, wondering if he has prostate cancer and postulating that he had undergone a radical prostatectomy and implying that there was metastasis.

Fausta's Blog is asking the same questions, quoting Fox News Latino, Associated Press:

Some people suspect Chávez has been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness such as prostate or colon cancer while others claim doctors botched liposuction surgery and he suffered an infection.

The chronology of events is

  • Chavez had surgery in Venezuela
  • Following the surgery, he left Venezuela and made stops in Brazil and Ecuador
  • He then flew to Cuba, where he was operated for a pelvic abscess on June 10
  • Chavez was interviewed by phone for Telesur on June 12
  • On Friday June 17, Fidel and Raul Castro dropped by Chavez’s hospital room for a photo-op
  • On June 21, Adan Chavez, Hugo’s brother, said that the president would return to Venezuela by July 4

Venezuela News and Views has been following the events closely and are great resource of any of the goings on in Venezuela. He quotes a spanish language source Gustavo as he rethinks the possibility that Hugo Chavez may indeed be in serious medical trouble. "I do not know how trustworthy is Gustavo's source, but the thing is that his "conspiracy theory" matches so many things so well that, that as Italians would say, si non e vero, e ben trovato. And thus, even if this blogger is always reticent on reporting rumors, for once he will make an exception."

From the post Chavez croaking? Well, maybe...

In short, Chavez would be suffering from a prostate cancer that has metastasized.

This already would explain several things: why Chavez never remarried; why he occasionally seems to get all bloated; why his ample clothing when he does an extended cadena as it could hide adult diapers better; why the mystery around the whole thing as prostate surgery for a macho man is tantamount to recognize that he is not that macho anymore.

Since the post of Gustavo is in Spanish, follows my interpretation of his text in English.

Apparently the "knee" problem was a way to hide the prostate surgery which today can be dealt well enough in a couple of weeks. But if we are to believe Gustavo the post biopsy was not encouraging and they decided to do some advanced body scans which in Venezuela can only be done in a couple of private clinics. Not only Chavez entourage would not trust the discretion of private clinics but it would have been also an admission that the "socialist" care was not as performing as the "capitalist" care since the regime had not been able to match the equipment of the private sector for "el pueblo". Thus the trip to Cuba. One caveat here: where would have Chavez got prostate surgery in full discretion? Has he set an O.R. inside Miraflores or Fuerte Tiuna?

Before, for show, Chavez stopped in Brazil and Ecuador and that must have been a mistake because he got a post op infection. And also some people found him walking strangely well for someone with an alleged serious knee injury. Arriving in Cuba he got feverish soon and they had to drain the abscess. That would have been the real "emergency" part. In a way that was a convenient excuse to justify Chavez stay while the real stuff was being done, namely the body scans.

He seems to have recovered well enough form his infection but apparently the scans were not good and they decided to start radiotherapy. Another caveat: why not chemotherapy? The more so that he has metastasized. A explanation is that under chemo he would have had to resign temporarily since you might go bonkers during the treatment. Chavez cannot go for an interim prez to preserve his tough image of caudillo. Whatever it is, the lone photo of him in Havana shows him rather gaunt and leaning on both Castro brothers. Some people said it reeked of Photoshop but then again... it matches the symptoms.

According to Gustavo's source, the radio therapy will take 25 days twice, with a ten days rest, which explains quite well how they keep postponing the return announcement. In fact they are trying to postpone the traditional July 5th parade to the eight which pretty much would fall in between two treatments, maybe allowing Chavez to set foot in Venezuela for a couple of days. After all if you travel in a plane with a medical bed incorporated, well, you can manage the round trip with a minimum of damage.

The problem is that radio therapy also leaves visible sequels that must be explained (I do not think it includes loss of hair unless it is coupled with some form of chemo). Thus the regime is faced with the unavoidable problem to have to fess up and admit Chavez sickness. And this for sure explains all the nervousness within the grandees of the regime left behind to mind the joint. That is, the drastic reactions to events that do not deserve such reactions, the mistakes in handling the jail crisis, etc,.. as the regime upper echelons know what is going on, or suspect it considering the shroud of silence which is worse than any serious medical communique. In other words within chavismo there is at the same time a succession war open, probably where Cuba is trying to pick its next viceroy, AND a sauve qui peut (1) as all the corrupt fortunes are bailing out of doge before they get arrested in a post Chavez regime, even if led by a chavista.

Do I believe it? Not yet but it is awfully tempting. However let me make something perfectly clear: THIS WOULD BE POSSIBLY THE VERY WORST CASE SCENARIO FOR VENEZUELA.

Much of this speculation is driven by an article published by the WSJ yesterday.

Venezuelan officials scrambled Thursday to reassure compatriots that President Hugo Chávez was not seriously ill after his brother said the president would remain in a Cuban hospital for up to 12 more days, making it likely that Mr. Chávez will be away from the country for nearly a month.

The absence has sparked furious speculation about the president's health and led many in Venezuela to ask: What happens if the former army officer who has ruled Venezuela for 12 years is suddenly incapacitated or even dies?

Now Public trumps all the rumors and asks if Hugo Chavez is dead?

Wikileaks Argentina tweeted earlier today:

"BREAKING NEWS! The president of Venezuela Hugo Chavez died in Cuba this morning. 06/25/2011 08:43AM"

I would only add:

"Regardless of the diagnosis, the real cancer is the destruction of the Venezuelan economy, the people’s rights and freedoms under Chavez’s Bolivarian revolution, which he wants to metastasize through our hemisphere."

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