The Obama administration condemned Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez for questioning whether the U.S. could be responsible for a number of cancer cases among Latin American leaders.

The State Department on Thursday said Chávez's comments were "horrific and reprehensible." Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said they were not worthy of further response.

Chávez has long questioned whether the U.S. government could be plotting to oust him. But earlier this week he went far beyond that, saying it was very strange that he along with Argentine President Cristina Fernández, Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo as well as Brazilian leaders Dilma Rousseff and Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva all suffered from cancer.

He said he wasn't accusing the U.S. and doesn't have any proof. But he asked, in his words, "Would it be strange if they had developed a technology to induce cancer and no one knew it?"

Chávez was diagnosed with cancer last June and has been traveling to Cuba for treatment and chemotherapy. He has not told the public what type of cancer he has, but has said that his treatment has gone well.

The Venezuelan president also said that that former Cuban leader Fidel Castro had warned him about the U.S. attempting to harm him. “Chávez, be careful, they’ve developed technology, be careful with what you eat, they could stick you with a small needle,” Castro said.

Based on reporting by the Associated Press.

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