Though Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has expressed his disbelief in the 'traditional theories' about the death of Simón Bolívar -- the Venezuelan hero who played a great role in freeing much of South America from Spanish rule -- the recent study ordered by Chavez suggests that foul play cannot be confirmed if at all his Colombian enemies had something to do with Bolívar's death.

Chavez had recently exhumed the 180-year-old grave of Bolívar to see if he was poisoned by Colombian enemies.  Traditional theories surrounding the heroic leader's death state that he died of tuberculosis in Colombia in 1830.

The research which followed exhumation discovered traces of poison that, according to scientists, may have caused Bolívar's death, but these toxins could have been present in medicines widely used at the time, scientists said.

John Hopkins University Professor Paul Auwaerter says that Bolivar probably died of arsenic poisoning, but think that it probably came from contaminated drinking water or attempting to use the substance as a medication. He says Chavez is misconstruing research.

"We could not establish the death was by non-natural means or by intentional poisoning. None of those who say this could prove it," Elías Jaua, the vice-president of Venezuela said.



Simón Bolívar, oil painting by Ricardo Acevedo Bernal



However, Chávez seemed convinced about the authenticity of his murder theory and, disregarding the investigation report, said on Monday, "I think they murdered him," on a telephone call carried live on TV. "I assume my humble responsibility before the people and before history. I don't have proof; I don't know whether we will have. But those are the circumstances."

According to Chavez's opponents, the exhumation and study have been a waste of time and resources.