Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has credited Fidel Castro and Jesus for helping him win his battle against cancer, during a televised prayer service on state television Sunday.
“The first doctor is named Jesus of Nazareth, the highest of healers, the second is Fidel, and the third is the medical team," Chavez said during the broadcast.
Crediting Jesus and Castro for helping him fight cancer is seen by his political opponents as more than just a show of admiration for Christianity and Communism.
Opposition leaders have repeatedly demanded to know more about Castro’s illness, including what type of cancer and the names of his doctors, arguing that the health of the nation’s leader is of national concern, the Wall Street Journal reports.
However, Chavez has refused to release any detailed information about his cancer battle other than that he has gone to Cuba for chemotherapy, had a baseball-sized tumor removed from his pelvic region, and that Castro personally delivered the test results which said he had cancer.
During the prayer service, Chavez combined more biblical images with socialist propaganda through a story about a young girl he met named Genesis, who had terminal cancer.
At an event, Genesis handed Chavez a Venezuelan flag. Holding the flag in front of TV cameras, Chavez said, “Here is the heart of Genesis, in this flag.”
Chavez who plans on running for another six-year term in 2012, has often combined religion with socialism in his speeches. Shortly after being re-elected in 2006, Chavez said, “The Kingdom of Christ is the kingdom of love, of peace; the kingdom of justice, of solidarity, brotherhood, the kingdom of socialism. This is the kingdom of the future of Venezuela.”
Since then, the use of Christian imagery and public prayer services has been a growing theme in Chavez’s speeches, which analysts say is used to exploit a mostly Christian voting population.