Bloomberg News

Chavez Goes on Venezuelan TV to Rebut Reports About His Health

September 29, 2011

Sept. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez appeared on live television today to rebut media reports that his health has deteriorated since he returned from a fourth round of chemotherapy in Cuba.

Wearing a red sports top and a baseball cap, Chavez was filmed with members of his Cabinet in the grounds of the presidential palace, jogging and throwing a baseball.

El Nuevo Herald, the Spanish-language sister newspaper of the Miami Herald, reported last night that Chavez was admitted to a hospital in Caracas Sept. 27 and would undergo dialysis to treat a possible kidney failure. The report cited people close to the situation whom it didn’t name. Chavez dismissed the report and said he was keen to start campaigning for elections scheduled for October next year.

“I am my own answer and the life I will live from now on will be the response -- the President Chavez who’s coming in 2012, 2013, 2019,” Chavez said.

The former paratrooper had a baseball-sized tumor removed by doctors in Cuba in June, though he has provided few details about the state of his health or the type of cancer he has. He said today that the operation left him with 40 stitches, that his kidneys haven’t been affected and that people who say he has colon cancer are wrong.

“I had cancer in a ball that was extracted,” he said. “Now it’s the colon, that it’s destroyed, now the kidneys -it’s all false.” Chavez refused to say what type of cancer he has.

Not Immortal

Chavez needs to squash the speculation over his health to stop people “jockeying for position in terms of what comes next,” Eric Farnsworth, vice president of the Council of the Americas, said in a phone interview from Washington. “If he can show he’s still vibrant, still vital and in good health then that helps to damp down that type of speculation.”

Recent tests have shown that his cholesterol and hemoglobin levels are good and that his white blood cell count is rising, Chavez said.

In a phone call to state television earlier today, Chavez said he hopes to resume his normal working routine soon.

“I am undergoing a rigorous timetable of treatment,” Chavez said. “However, my feet are already itching to get out to do battle.”

Since being diagnosed, the 57-year-old leader has reduced public appearances and suspended his “Alo Presidente” Sunday talk show, on which he sometimes spoke for more than eight hours. Venezuela and Iran last week agreed to postpone a visit by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

--Editors: Philip Sanders, Josh Goodman

To contact the reporter on this story: Charlie Devereux in Caracas at cdevereux3@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Joshua Goodman at jgoodman19@bloomberg.net.


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