Hugo Chavez daughters
The most recent image of Hugo Chavez showed him in Cuba with two of his daughters, Rosa Virginia (R) and Maria Gabriela (L). REUTERS/handout

The death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Tuesday may have actually happened earlier in Cuba, according to claims by the Spanish newspaper ABC.

ABC claims that Chavez, who had returned to Venezuela last month following cancer surgery and a two-month recovery period in Cuba, was sent back to Havana in his last hours after his condition continued to deteriorate amid respiratory complications.

Chavez’s death was reported around 4:30 p.m. local time, at a military hospital in Caracas, but ABC said its sources close to the medical team reported that the death actually occurred several hours earlier, around 7 a.m.

The alleged purpose of the delayed reporting was to conceal the last-minute efforts to save Chavez’s life and the subsequent transfer of his body back to Venezuela, thus providing the government time to carefully manage the announcement of his death.

This scenario is consistent with the level of secrecy that had surrounded Chavez’s illness over the past two years, during which the government declined to disclose what type of cancer he had or provide detailed information about his health status.

On the other end of the conspiracy spectrum, some are saying that Chavez was assassinated by the U.S. government. These Twitter users refer to Chavez's past claims that the CIA may have given him and other Latin American leaders cancer: