Apparently, there is more meat to the mystery of Simón Bolívar’s death than meets the eye.
Dr. Paul Auwaerter, a researcher at Johns Hopkins University, claims that poisoning by arsenic cannot be ruled out. Apparently, the Liberator’s symptoms, which included coughing up green fluid, are consistent with slow arsenic poisoning. This would be confirmed by the finding of green fluid in his lungs and heart in his autopsy.
Where did the arsenic come from?
It could have been murder, but "most of the signs and symptoms point to slow, chronic poisoning, the kind that might result from drinking contaminated water."
Apparently, Colombian and Peruvian mummies have been found to contain high levels of arsenic, which hints at high levels of the substance in the drinking water.
Another hypothesis is that Bolívar could have ingested the poison voluntarily, as a way of dealing with headaches and hemorrhoids. According to the doctor, ""Bolivar was known to ingest arsenic as a remedy for some of his ongoing illnesses…"
While the doctor’s study is not conclusive, and he says that tuberculosis is not an unreasonable explanation, he claims testing on Bolívar’s tissue and hair could provide some answers.
If Luisa Ortega and her CSI team find arsenic in Bolívar’s remains, they will scream bloody murder and will probably want to indict the entire nation of Colombia.
But it’s useful to keep in mind that arsenic does not equal murder, and while cross-border rivalries were particularly acute at the time, they did not automatically constitute a motive.
Update: Chávez weighs on on Auwaerter’s findings and, obviously, concludes a completely different thing.Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.