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Doctor: Ex-Bolivia Leader Near Death

February 28, 2002

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LA PAZ, Bolivia (AP) _ Former President Hugo Banzer is near death after cancer spread to his brain, his doctor said Wednesday.

The physician, Freddy Terrazas, spoke to reporters outside Banzer’s home in Santa Cruz and said the 75-year-old former head of state was lucid.

Banzer stepped down last August after being diagnosed with lung cancer, turning the presidency over to Jorge Quiroga, then vice president.

Quiroga is serving out Banzer’s term which ends in August.

Banzer is wanted in neighboring Argentina, where Judge Rodolfo Canicoba Corral has formally accused the former president of conspiring with other South American military dictatorships in the 1970s to eliminate political opponents under Plan Condor.

Plan Condor allegedly involved joint operations and exchange of information among the regimes, aimed at kidnapping, arresting, torturing and assassinating leftists and dissidents in Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay.

Banzer insists he never played a role in Plan Condor.

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