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Venezuela to Investigate Possible Poisoning of Hugo Chavez

chavezVenezuela will investigate whether or not late President Hugo Chavez was poisoned, according to acting President Nicolas Maduro. Chavez died while battling an undisclosed cancer in his pelvic region. Speaking on a regional TV network, Telesur, Maduro said that he believes Chavez was poisoned, echoing similar statements he made earlier this month accusing the United States of involvement in the late leader’s illness.

“We will seek the truth,” Maduro said. “We have the intuition that our commander Chavez was poisoned by dark forces that wanted him out of the way.”

Chavez first announced his battle with the disease in 2011, and made statements implicating the United States in his sickness.

The U.S. State Department dismissed Maduro’s most recent allegations as absurd, but there has been long-established bad blood between the two countries. On the day Chavez’s death was announced, Maduro ordered the deportation of two U.S. diplomats, accusing them of attempting to destabilize Venezuela.

Maduro will run for president on Chavez’s platform in a special election next month, and keeping the leader’s death in the minds of voters no doubt plays to his political advantage.

Though Chavez and his party already enjoyed widespread support among Venezuelans, a high level of emotion could carry Maduro to an easy victory during the April 14 polls. Opposition candidate Henrique Capriles will need to defeat the legacy of Chavez to sway the country in his favor.

“Let’s take the president (Chavez) away from the political debate out of respect for his memory, his family, his supporters,” Capriles’ campaign chief, Henri Falcon, said according to Reuters.

Prior to his death Chavez named Maduro, a former bus driver, his chosen successor. So far Maduro has yet to display the sort of bravado that made Chavez a beloved leader, something that Capriles will work to capitalize on.

Reuters reports that polls show Maduro with a 10 point lead over Capriles, who lost to Chavez by 11 points in last year’s election.

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