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Why so much secrecy around Chávez's health? Venezuela's not alone.

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No one has heard from him since.

He’s fine. He’s dead. He’s in a coma. He’s on life support. He’s recovering. You name it – any scenario you wish to believe has been posited. And that’s largely because no one knows. Since Chávez first announced he was ill, in 2011, no medical report has detailed exactly what he faces or what his prognosis is. The government has said that it is keeping the public informed of his health status, as the president himself wishes, but in reality their reports have raised more questions than answers, even as they accuse the opposition of spreading rumors in a form of “psychological war.”

The opposition, for their part, is outraged, demanding more specificity, that the Venezuelan people be told the “whole truth” of the status of the country’s leader.

What does secrecy tell us?

From former US presidents Ronald Reagan to Franklin Roosevelt, the states of health of leaders was carefully curated by administrations. In one oft-cited case, French President Francois Mitterrand hid his cancer diagnosis from the public for over a decade before being forced to step down. “Yet every year the doctor dutifully said he was in fine health,” says Dr. Post.

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