The voice is scratchy but vaguely familiar. "I want you to tell the boys," the man says in Spanish, "that today, Sept. 16, I am more alive than ever." According to thousands sharing the recording across social media in Venezuela, the words come from none other than strongman Hugo Chavez and prove that a vast conspiracy is in place. Rather than dying from cancer in March, they say, the recording shows that Chavez was kidnapped and held hostage.
Chavez on his deathbed. Or was he?
The rumors have gotten so widespread that Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro publicly denied them this weekend. According to Maduro, the recording is actually a trick engineered by a notorious political operative who lives in Miami.
-- J.J. Rendon is Latin America's Karl Rove