LA PAZ, Bolivia – Bolivian officials are denying a report in a U.S. diplomatic cable revealed Tuesday that President Evo Morales had a tumor in his nose.
The U.S. ambassador in Brazil said in a January 2009 dispatch that Brazil's defense minister had confirmed a rumor that the leftist leader was suffering from "a serious sinus tumor" that might explain "why Morales has seemed unfocussed and not his usual self" at recent meetings.
Ambassador Clifford Sobel quoted the Brazilian, Nelson Jobim, as saying that "surgery will be an effort to remove it" and that Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva "had offered Morales an examination and treatment at a Sao Paulo hospital."
Morales' spokesman Ivan Canelas denied there had ever been any tumor, saying Morales had surgery last year for a problem with his nasal septum that was causing him constant colds. In a radio interview, he said the leaked cable "had a big dose of speculation."
Cuban doctors operated on Morales in February 2009. At the time, officials said Morales had had problems breathing due to a deviated septum caused by a blow he received while playing soccer.
The diplomatic cable is one of 294 that the WikiLeaks online whistle-blowing organization had released as of Tuesday. It said it has obtained 251,287 U.S. cables and directives in all and will be releasing them over the coming weeks. It said 1,299 of the cables originated in the U.S. Embassy in La Paz.
None have yet been released. They could shed some light on the events that prompted Morales to expel U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration in late 2008.
Morales claimed they were conspiring against him with his political opponents. U.S. officials denied the accusations.