Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez mused that the United States might be behind his cancer and that of other leftist leaders in Latin America.
"'It would not be strange if they had developed the technology to induce cancer and nobody knew about it until now ... I don't know. I'm just reflecting,' he said in a televised speech to troops at a military base.
"'But this is very, very, very strange ... it's a bit difficult to explain this, to reason it, including using the law of probabilities.'"
Chávez, who is known for his outrageous speeches, has been battling cancer since he had surgery to remove a tumor from his pelvis in June. Argentina's president Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, an ally of Chávez, announced yesterday that she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer and would undergo surgery Jan. 4. Brazil's current president Dilma Rousseff, her predecesor and mentor Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and Paraguay's Fernando Lugo were also diagnosed with cancer.
The Guardian reports that Chávez "conceded he had no proof and did not want to make 'reckless' accusations."
Nonetheless Chávez continued: "Would it be so strange that they've invented the technology to spread cancer and we won't know about it for 50 years?"
"I repeat: I am not accusing anyone," Chávez backtracked. "I am simply taking advantage of my freedom to reflect and air my opinions faced with some very strange and hard to explain goings-on."
According to The Daily Mail, Chávez said that Cuban leader Fidel Castro has warned him in the past to be careful.
"[The U.S. has] developed technology, be careful with what you eat, they could stick you with a small needle," Chávez says Castro told him. Chávez then told Boliva's Evo Marales and Equador's Rafael Correa to "be careful; we just don't know."
Update at 6:23 p.m. ET. State Department Says Comments Are 'Reprehensible':
The U.S. State Department dismissed the comments made by Chávez.
"With regard to the Chavez statements, let me simply say that they are horrific and reprehensible," said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, according to AFP.