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Caracas, Venezuela - Chavez Reveals He Is Fighting Cancer After Surgery

Published on: July 1, 2011 08:44 AM
By: AP
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In this frame grab taken from Venezolana de Television, VTV, Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez delivers a televised speech aired from Cuba, Thursday, June 30, 2011. Chavez said he underwent a second surgery in Cuba that removed a cancerous tumor. It was unclear when and where the message was recorded. At right, a painting depicting Venezuela's Independence hero Simon Bolivar. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)In this frame grab taken from Venezolana de Television, VTV, Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez delivers a televised speech aired from Cuba, Thursday, June 30, 2011. Chavez said he underwent a second surgery in Cuba that removed a cancerous tumor. It was unclear when and where the message was recorded. At right, a painting depicting Venezuela's Independence hero Simon Bolivar. (AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos)

Caracas, Venezuela - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez revealed that he is fighting cancer after having a tumor removed in Cuba, raising uncertainty about his political future even as he assured his country he expects to fully recover.

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Chavez was noticeably thinner and paler as he appeared on television Thursday night, reading from a prepared speech with a serious and at times sad expression. He said he is resolved to “be victorious in this new battle that life has placed before us.”

Chavez said he had two operations in Cuba, including one that removed a tumor in which there were “cancerous cells.” The 56-year-old president said the surgery was performed after an initial operation nearly three weeks ago to remove a pelvic abscess.

Chavez said the tumor was in the pelvic region but didn’t say exactly where or what type of cancer was involved. He said he is continuing to receive treatment in Cuba but did not elaborate.

He said it was a mistake not have taken better care of his health through medical checkups.

“What a fundamental error,” he said at a podium, flanked by the Venezuelan flag and a portrait of 19th-century independence hero Simon Bolivar, the namesake of his Bolivarian Revolution political movement.

“Now I wanted to speak to you from this steep hill, from which I feel that I’m coming out of another abyss,” Chavez said. “I wanted to speak to you now with the sun of daybreak that I feel is shining on me. I think we’ve achieved it. Thank you, my God.”

Expressing confidence that he will continue to get better, Chavez said: “I invite you all to continue climbing new summits together.”

Chavez didn’t say how much longer he expects to remain in Cuba recovering, and there was no information on when or where his message was recorded.

His appearance came after days of anxious speculation among Venezuelans about Chavez’s health. State television on Tuesday had shown photos and video of Chavez chatting animatedly with Fidel Castro, but officials had been vague about the reasons for Chavez’s continued seclusion in Cuba.

Citing Chavez’s health, the government announced Wednesday that it was canceling a two-day summit of Latin American leaders that Chavez would have hosted next week on the 200th anniversary of Venezuela’s declaration of independence from Spain.

Chavez’s revelation, and the lack of any return date, is likely to further generate speculation in Venezuela about which of the president’s allies could potentially take his place if necessary. Vice President Elias Jaua has led government events in Chavez’s absence, and the leftist president’s elder brother, Adan, recently stepped up his public profile by rallying supporters at a weekend prayer meeting for Chavez’s health.

Chavez supporters gathered in Plaza Bolivar in downtown Caracas late Thursday chanting before television cameras: “Chavez, friend, the people are with you!”

There was no immediate reaction from the main opposition coalition, which earlier had demanded that the government provide details about Chavez’s condition.

Chavez said his first surgery took place June 11 for a “strange formation in the pelvic region that required an emergency operation due to the imminent risk of a generalized infection.”

He said when he arrived in Cuba after visits to Brazil and Ecuador, he had intended to have a simple checkup for a knee injury that had forced him to use a cane in recent weeks. But he said Castro had questioned him “like a doctor” and that tests confirmed the need for urgent surgery.

After that initial operation, Chavez said, doctors began to suspect other problems, and Castro gave him the news of the tumor. A series of tests “confirmed the presence of an abscessed tumor with the presence of cancerous cells, which made necessary a second operation that allowed for the complete extraction of the tumor,” Chavez said.

He didn’t say when the second operation was performed.

Chavez said his condition has been “evolving satisfactorily while I receive a complementary treatment to combat the different types of cells found, and thereby continue on the path to my complete recovery.”

After Chavez’s speech, the vice president appeared on television at the presidential palace, calling for support and unity among Venezuelans.

“There is no time for sadness, but rather for courage and for work,” Jaua said. “Unity is what’s needed at this time.”

During the past few weeks, Chavez has largely remained out of sight, and some of his opponents had accused the government of maintaining secrecy about his ailment. Some opposition politicians had called for the president to temporarily cede his duties to the vice president while recovering in Cuba.

Chavez’s allies, however, insisted he remained firmly in control of government affairs, even as he has been recovering.

The leftist leader has been in office for more than 12 years and plans to run for re-election in 2012. He did not address that issue on Thursday.

Venezuelan pollster and analyst Luis Vicente Leon said on Twitter that Chavez will likely enjoy an initial boost in his approval ratings due to public sympathy, but that “the political risks for Chavez are notably amplified” due to his condition.

In videos released Wednesday, Chavez smiled and discussed Latin American history and his days as an army paratrooper with Castro. Two of Chavez’s daughters and a granddaughter joined in the encounter.

Finishing his speech Thursday, Chavez recited a revolutionary slogan often used by Castro: “Forever onward toward victory! We will be victorious!”

Before finishing, he added: “Until my return!”

After his appearance, some of his closest allies went on state television. National Assembly president Fernando Soto Rojas, who days earlier had denied rumors that Chavez was diagnosed with cancer, said the president is in good hands in Cuba.

“We wish for him to get better soon! Onward, commander!”


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Read Comments (13)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Jul 01, 2011 at 08:47 AM 17Travelor Says:

He should seek medical advise in manhattan, on park avenue where the better doctors are. not some which doctor in columbia.

2

 Jul 01, 2011 at 09:05 AM Survivor Says:

When I was going through my treatments for cancer, I said I wouldn't wish this on my worst enemy. I don't even wish this on Chavez.

3

 Jul 01, 2011 at 09:27 AM ishbibele Says:

Yemach shmoi

4

 Jul 01, 2011 at 11:13 AM Raphael_Kaufman Says:

Firstly, Chavez wouldn't travel to Colombia if he was dying of thirst and they had the only water concession. Nor would the Colombians admitt him. Secondly Chavez is a very bad guy. He is an avowed enemy of the U.S. Israel and all Jews. Lastly, the cancer couldn't have happened to a more deserving guy. To quote Sean Penn's (one of Chavez' biggest supporters)curse on Dick Cheney, I hope Chavez dies screaming in agony.

5

 Jul 01, 2011 at 10:55 AM VeyIzMir Says:

The world is much better without him. A virulent Anti-semite as he is.

6

 Jul 01, 2011 at 10:13 AM Sara1st Says:

I guess Hashem is finally taking care of him, and hopefully I'll get to see it!!!
The Venezuelean people have been too nice for too long!

7

 Jul 01, 2011 at 10:04 AM Anonymous Says:

he should die a painful death like the pain he cause so many

8

 Jul 01, 2011 at 09:55 AM Paulie123 Says:

I hope he dies from this sickness soon. One less Rasha in the world will do us all good. And hopefully his Hitler friend will follow his path soon as well

9

 Jul 01, 2011 at 01:52 PM ShmuelG Says:

Yes, I hope he dies, I hope it's tonight. But men like him... even gehenum refuses to take them. Look at Fidel. We were wishing him dead for years, yet he survives. And look how old the ayatola was.

10

 Jul 01, 2011 at 02:54 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #4  
Raphael_Kaufman Says:

Firstly, Chavez wouldn't travel to Colombia if he was dying of thirst and they had the only water concession. Nor would the Colombians admitt him. Secondly Chavez is a very bad guy. He is an avowed enemy of the U.S. Israel and all Jews. Lastly, the cancer couldn't have happened to a more deserving guy. To quote Sean Penn's (one of Chavez' biggest supporters)curse on Dick Cheney, I hope Chavez dies screaming in agony.

Despite the wrongs that Mr. Chavez has espoused and commited, noone "deserves" an illness.

11

 Jul 01, 2011 at 06:05 PM ShmuelG Says:

Reply to #10  
Anonymous Says:

Despite the wrongs that Mr. Chavez has espoused and commited, noone "deserves" an illness.

If he doesn't desrve an illness, Chavez and Castro surely desrve to be cut to pieces and fed to the dogs. Feel better?

12

 Jul 02, 2011 at 08:59 PM ekares Says:

I am saddened but not surprized by the vituperative remarks wishing pain for Chavez. While I have deep contempt for his political philosophy, his abrogation of individual rights, and his way of generally treating anyone who disagree with him, the suggestion he deserves to suffer and die from cancer is not only inappropriate but goes against Torah and Jewish thought. I have lost several dear friends and relatives these past several years and well as loved family members in prior years. I know how they suffered and how painfully they died. Chavez has family and friends that, whatever we may feel about him, love him and have concern for him. They will feel, if it comes, the pain of loss I felt and still feel. I am not saying feel sorry for him. I am saying let nature, G-d, faith, or whatever you choose to call it take it's course. Don't lose your own sense humanity by wishing pain on a tyrant. I know that is hard if not impossible to do sometimes, but it is not turning the other cheek and giving solace to the enemy. It IS taking responsibility to focus on your own sense of being.

13

 Jul 03, 2011 at 12:02 AM ShmuelG Says:

Reply to #12  
ekares Says:

I am saddened but not surprized by the vituperative remarks wishing pain for Chavez. While I have deep contempt for his political philosophy, his abrogation of individual rights, and his way of generally treating anyone who disagree with him, the suggestion he deserves to suffer and die from cancer is not only inappropriate but goes against Torah and Jewish thought. I have lost several dear friends and relatives these past several years and well as loved family members in prior years. I know how they suffered and how painfully they died. Chavez has family and friends that, whatever we may feel about him, love him and have concern for him. They will feel, if it comes, the pain of loss I felt and still feel. I am not saying feel sorry for him. I am saying let nature, G-d, faith, or whatever you choose to call it take it's course. Don't lose your own sense humanity by wishing pain on a tyrant. I know that is hard if not impossible to do sometimes, but it is not turning the other cheek and giving solace to the enemy. It IS taking responsibility to focus on your own sense of being.

" Chavez has family and friends" So? So did Adolf. Am I supposed to feel as sorry for them as I do for you, dear ekares? Not ever!

14

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