Of all the things to waste a governor’s time, scurrilous rumors have got to be the worst. Just ask Chavecito’s old army buddy and Bolivarian comrade-in-arms, the governor of Zulia:
The governor of the State of Zulia, Francisco Arias Cárdenas, assured the press on Monday that he is in “good health, thank God”.
He told the newspaper Panorama that rumors of a supposed illness are “baseless and perverse”.
He added that during Holy Week, he had not stopped working, since he was attending assemblies at Curazaíto and Corral de Navas, in Cabimas, as well as in other sectors on the eastern shore of Lake Maracaibo.
“I’ve had all my checkups, and I’m fine…it’s just rumors,” Arias reiterated.
Rumors of a supposed cancer have been spreading via social media networks, requiring the governor himself to address the matter and put it to rest.
It would no doubt be all too convenient to some people (who shall here go nameless) to have Francisco Arias Cárdenas fall ill with the same malignancy that felled his old friend. Arias actually hit the campaign trail before Chavecito, getting himself elected for the first time as governor of his native state before Chavecito had stopped advising his supporters to abstain from federal elections and decided to run for office himself in the late 1990s. Back in the day, this was a source of acrimonious dispute between the two comrades, and they quarreled again on more than one occasion, although they made up for good a few years ago and have remained allies ever since.
If I were a gringo imperialist looking to eliminate Bolivarian leaders with plausibly deniable cancers, I’d certainly have Arias on the radar, although Nicolás Maduro and other federal-level figures would be much more obvious targets. Arias lacks the charisma of Maduro, and doesn’t seem to be in any hurry to go beyond Zulia, ambition-wise.
And yes, it is entirely possible that a foreign leader the US didn’t like would be the target for a cancer plot. Fidel Castro was one during the early 1960s, when cancer was first weaponized. Luckily, that plan fell through, thanks to Hurricane Flora.
At the moment, we don’t know for sure how Chavecito contracted the cancer that killed him; it may indeed be due to natural causes, since he lost a younger brother named Enzo to leukemia when the latter was just six months old. And Chavecito is well known to have smoked (and Fidel, who kicked the cigar habit himself many years ago, was constantly harping on him to quit). It’s entirely plausible that he contracted cancer that way.
So, at the moment, these rumors of Arias having cancer too are only that and nothing more. And it’s a good thing that he’s well, because Zulia is a constant target for imperial aggressions (it’s the OIL, stupid), and a Bolivarian governor can help keep it out of the clutches of the opposition, who would be only too happy to hatch a “Media Luna” style secession plot, as some right-wingers in Bolivia tried unsuccessfully to do to Evo a few years ago.
Long story short: If I were Arias, I’d be watching my back.