Venezuela accuses ‘enemies’ of causing Chavez cancer

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In this June 2, 2011, file photo, Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez, left, holds a crutch as he welcomes Brazil’s former President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, not in picture, at Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela. Venezuela on Tuesday, March 5, 2013, accused its enemies of causing President Hugo Chavez’s cancer hours before he died, and expelled two US military officers for an alleged plot to destabilize the nation. AP/ARIANA CUBILLOS

CARACAS—Venezuela on Tuesday accused its enemies of causing President Hugo Chavez’s cancer and expelled two US military officers for an alleged plot to destabilize the nation. (Chavez died Tuesday at 4:25 p.m. local time.)

Caracas lashed out against the opposition and the United States after announcing that Chavez had taken a turn for the worse and was struggling to breathe after contracting a new and severe infection.

The US, however, Tuesday rejected Venezuela’s allegations of a conspiracy, saying it was “absurd” to assert Washington was somehow behind Chavez’s cancer.

The Pentagon confirmed the expulsion of two military officers from the US embassy in Caracas and the State Department spokesman said: “An assertion that the United States was somehow involved in causing President Chavez’s illness is absurd, and we definitively reject it.”

The comments came shortly before Chavez’s death was announced in Caracas.

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