Tonight CNN Chile reported that Guillermo Cochez, the former Panamanian ambassador to the Organization of American States who was removed in January for confronting his Venezuelan counterpart at an OAS meeting, told the network that Venezuela President Hugo Chávez is dead. Meanwhile, posts from U.S. media outlets are already questioning this, waiting for a second confirmation, while at the same time calling CNN Chile “one of the more obscure outposts of the CNN empire.”
Here what CNN Chile posted on YouTube.
According the the CNN Chile report, Cochez said that Chávez was declared brain dead in Cuba on December 30, and that is why Chávez returned to Venezuela last week. He also claims that no one who has wanted to visit Chávez in the hospital has not been able to see him. He also questioned the recent photos of Chávez that were published by the Venezuelan government.
The information, according to the former ambassador, came from “internal sources from the Venezuelan government,” and that the news of Chávez being brain dead had been privately circulating for weeks. He also said the following, “I challenge the Venezuelan government, that they show President Chávez and only then will people know if what I am saying is true or not.”
Cochez also said that Chávez died four days ago after his daughters asked to have his artificial respirator disconnected. He also said that he is a journalist and that his sources were solid. He repeated several times in the CNN Chile interview that President Chávez is dead, and told CNN Chile that if he is a liar, prove it.
According to a report on January 17, when Cochez was still Panamanian ambassador to the OAS, he was criticized by Panama’s government for criticizing Venezuela and for confronting the OAS’ Venezuelan ambassador:
Panama’s Foreign Minister Rómulo Roux on Wednesday disavowed the actions of his country’s ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS), Guillermo Cochez, who questioned the fact that the body has kept quiet via-à-vis a possible violation of the Constitution in Venezuela.
“Statement by Amb (Ambassador, William) Cochez in OAS today (Wednesday) was not authorized,” Roux wrote in his Twitter account. The Panamanian Foreign Ministry confirmed this message to AFP.
Subsequently, the Foreign Ministry issued a statement rejecting Cochez’s stance.
“The Government of Panama rejects categorically the unconsulted statements provided by the Ambassador of Panama to the OAS Guillermo Cochez,” the Foreign Ministry said.
According to official communiqué, Guillermo Cochez’s opinion is “far from the stance of the national government (of Panama.)”
In the document, Panama reaffirmed that “it will continue its position of respect for domestic political processes.” In connection with Venezuela, “we wish President Hugo Chávez a quick recovery.”
After this controversy, Cochez was removed as Panama’s ambassador to the OAS.