Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez speculated on Wednesday that the United States might have developed a way to give Latin American leaders cancer, after Argentina's Cristina Fernandez joined the list of presidents diagnosed with the disease.
It was a typically controversial statement by Venezuela's leader, who underwent surgery in June to remove a tumor from his pelvis. But he stressed that he was not making any accusations, just thinking aloud.
"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."
Chavez, Fernandez, Paraguay's Fernando Lugo, Brazil's Dilma Rousseff and former Brazilian leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva have all been diagnosed recently with cancer.
Doctors say Fernandez has a very good chance of recovery and will not need chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Her diagnosis was made public on Tuesday.
Chavez said other regional leaders should beware, including his close ally, Bolivian President Evo Morales.
"We'll have to take good care of Evo. Take care Evo!" he said.
The 57-year-old is Latin America's loudest critic of US foreign policy along with Cuba's former leader Fidel Castro, and he frequently lashes out at what he calls the "Yankee Empire".