US denounces Chavez cancer comment

Associated Press
In this photo released by Miraflores Press Office, Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, right, speaks with soldiers inside a military vehicle during a military parade to commemorate the end of the year and during which some military officials were promoted at Ft. Tiuna in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday Dec. 28, 2011. Chavez is questioning the rash of cancer cases among Latin American leaders and asking if somehow the U.S. might have a way to induce the illness.  Chavez referred to the cancer diagnosis of Argentine President Cristina Fernandez, and noted that he and the leaders of Brazil and Paraguay have also struggled with the illness recently.  (AP Photo/Miraflores Press Office)
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In this photo released by Miraflores Press Office, Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, right, speaks with soldiers inside a military vehicle during a military parade to commemorate the end of the year and during which some military officials were promoted at Ft. Tiuna in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday Dec. 28, 2011. Chavez is questioning the rash of cancer cases among Latin American leaders and asking if somehow the U.S. might have a way to induce the illness. Chavez referred to the cancer diagnosis of Argentine President Cristina Fernandez, and noted that he and the leaders of Brazil and Paraguay have also struggled with the illness recently. (AP Photo/Miraflores Press Office)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Obama administration is denouncing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez for questioning whether the U.S. might be behind a rash of cancer cases among Latin American leaders.

The State Department on Thursday said Chavez's comments were "horrific and reprehensible." Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said they were not worthy of further response.

Chavez has long questioned whether the U.S. government could be plotting to oust him. But earlier this week he went far beyond that, saying it was very strange that he and the leaders of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay have struggled with cancer.

He said he wasn't accusing the U.S. and doesn't have any proof. But he asked, in his words, "Would it be strange if they had developed a technology to induce cancer and no one knew it?"

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