"A lot of lies" on Morales' tumour, Bolivia says
Nov 30, 2010, 19:26 GMT
La Paz/Rio de Janeiro - Bolivian President Evo Morales had sinus surgery in 2009, but not for a 'serious tumour' as alleged by the defence minister of a neighbouring Latin American country in leaked US diplomatic cables, Bolivian officials said Tuesday.
The three-way diplomatic kerfuffle emerged from the latest release of purloined US State Department message traffic released by the WikiLeaks' master internet hackers. In many ways, it was a prime example of the sort of 'gossip' diplomacy that runs through the 250,000 documents illicitly released since Sunday.
According to the US diplomatic cable, Brazil's Defence Minister Nelson Jobim told the US government on January 22, 2009 that Morales had a 'serious tumour' in his sinus that was interfering with his work.
The Bolivian government reacted Tuesday with outrage. Government spokesman Ivan Canelas called the report 'a lot of lies and imagination from the gringos.'
'Nothing of what is emerging surprises us because our intelligence teams discovered a secret telephone line in the presidential palace itself,' Canelas said of the leaked US cables.
The cable with Jobim's comments was part of a confidential document drafted by the US Embassy in Brasilia that WikiLeaks made public Tuesday.
'Jobim told the ambassador that Lula had offered Morales an examination and treatment at a Sao Paulo hospital.
'Although there have been been public reports that Morales needs surgery for 'acute sinusitis,' and related otitis and headaches, according to Jobim his problems in fact are caused by a serious tumour and the surgery will be an effort to remove it,' said the document, signed by Clifford Sobel, US Ambassador to Brazil at the time.
Indeed, Morales underwent septoplasty on February 3, 2009. Surgery was performed in La Paz by Bolivian and Cuban doctors, officially to correct sinus problems that caused him strong headaches. No public mention was ever made of a tumour.
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