Venezuela probe unable to pin down Bolivar`s death

Venezuela`s govt said that after studying the remains of independence hero Simon Bolivar, experts were unable to pin down the cause of his death.

Caracas: Venezuela`s government has said
that after a year of studying the remains of 19th-century
independence hero Simon Bolivar, experts have been unable to
pin down the cause of his death.

Vice President Elias Jaua announced the results of the
investigation a year after President Hugo Chavez`s government
exhumed Bolivar`s remains looking for clues. Chavez regularly
extols Bolivar as the inspiration of his socialist-inspired
Bolivarian Revolution movement.

Jaua said that experts examined bones, teeth and hair.
He said the researchers confirmed through DNA tests that the
skeleton was that of Bolivar but were unable to determine if
he was murdered.

"We couldn`t establish that the death had been due to
non-natural causes or intentional poisoning," Jaua said in a
televised speech on Sunday.

He said the investigation will continue.

Historians have generally said that Bolivar died of
tuberculosis in 1830. But Chavez reiterated yesterday that he
suspects foul play.

"I believe they killed Simon Bolivar," Chavez said. "I
don`t have proof, I don`t know if we will, but it`s the

Last year, a doctor from Johns Hopkins University
questioned the tuberculosis theory and said he believes
arsenic prescribed as a medical treatment contributed to
Bolivar`s death.

Dr Paul Auwaerter, who presented his case at a
conference, said however that he didn`t support the
assassination theory.

Jaua said the possibility "remains open" that arsenic
prescribed as a medical treatment was a factor, or perhaps
cantharidin, a compound which despite being toxic was consumed
by some at the time. "It was wrongly believed... to be an
aphrodisiac," Jaua said.

The forensic studies have involved more than 50
researchers, including both Venezuelans and foreigners, since
Chavez oversaw the opening of Bolivar`s coffin last July. For
the DNA tests, researchers compared samples taken from
Bolivar`s remains with those of two women thought to be his

The results were announced a day after the anniversary
of Bolivar`s birth.


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