Bloomberg News

Chavez Calls Doctor ‘Big Liar’ Over Cancer Death Prognosis

October 26, 2011

(Updates with Chavez comment in fourth paragraph.)

Oct. 26 (Bloomberg) -- Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez said the doctor who claimed the president had less than two years to live never treated him and must have been paid to make those claims.

Chavez said he may have briefly met Dr. Salvador Navarrete some years ago when he contemplated setting up a medical team to treat him in case of emergencies.

Navarrete, who said he was Chavez’s doctor in 2002 and has also treated the former paratrooper’s mother, claimed in an interview in the Oct. 16 edition of the Mexico City-based daily Milenio that the president has a retro-peritoneal sarcoma and is unlikely to survive the next two years.

“I laughed when I read that interview,” Chavez said today in comments broadcast on state television. “I don’t even remember Dr. Navarrete. What Navarrete is, is a big liar. He presents himself as the family doctor. He isn’t.” Chavez added that the doctor had violated the Hippocratic Oath.

Chavez has “an excellent prognosis” after he was diagnosed and treated in time to stem the disease, according to a statement read out Oct. 22 by Dr. Fidel Ramirez, who forms part of his medical team.

In a letter published Oct. 21 in the Caracas-based daily Tal Cual, Navarrete said the publication of the interview in Milenio had forced him to leave the country with his family. He went public to help the country prepare for the “traumatic” event of Chavez’s death, he said.


“It worries me that the president and his political advisers don’t understand the magnitude of his illness,” Navarrete said in the letter. His “passing away in this moment could be more traumatic than the politicians may think.”

Chavez, who has declined to reveal exactly what kind of cancer he has except to say that he had a baseball-sized tumor removed from his pelvic area, earlier today said his opponents’ doubts about his health are unfounded.

“To those who wish me ill and say I’m going to die in a year and that I’m hiding the illness, no, I’ve told the truth,” he said in a 30-minute telephone call to state television. After four rounds of chemotherapy, “I feel cured, and the tests they did revealed that we’ve turned the page. Now, of course, I’ll have to be careful that it doesn’t reappear.”

Chavez was speaking publicly for the first time since Oct. 20 when he visited a religious sanctuary in western Venezuela, having flown directly there from Cuba, where he said exams had shown he is “free of illness.”

--Editors: Robert Jameson, Daniel Cancel

To contact the reporter on this story: Charlie Devereux in Caracas at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Joshua Goodman at

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