It’s back, and back with a vengeance. Three-term Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez, who had a very public battle with cancer last year, is returning to Cuba for medical treatment amid rumors that his prognosis is worse than he has let on.
No doubt conspiracy theorists on both sides will be foaming at the mouth. On the right, Venezuelans and international observers will rush to call this a cynical Chávez plot to steal another election and deprive his supporters of details of how bad his cancer really was. On the left, the very nasty rumor will re-emerge that the United States has been secretly causing leftist Latin American leaders cancer. And across the spectrum, everyone agrees that Cuba is a great place to get good healthcare without bad press.
Regardless of what happens, Venezuelans, as they have for the past twelve years, will lose out. Chávez out of the country means an even weaker government than the sorry state it is in now, and Chávez incapacitated means an unelected successor to an unsavory politician. Few sane people can truly wish for Chávez (or anyone) to die of cancer, but it’s hard to hope for the best when all outcomes are bad.