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Chavez Says Tumor Removed in Cuba Cancerous as He Awaits Radiation Therapy

March 04, 2012

Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez said a tumor removed last week by doctors in Cuba was cancerous though claimed that the disease hadn’t spread to other parts of his body.

Chavez, making his first television appearance since traveling to Havana Feb. 24 to undergo surgery, didn’t say when he’d return to Venezuela, where he’s preparing to run for re- election in October.

“As I said in Caracas, it was most likely that the lesion was malignant,” Chavez, wearing a red shirt and surrounded by members of his Cabinet, said on a video recorded March 3 in Cuba and broadcast on Venezuelan state television yesterday. “The entire lesion, measuring two centimeters, was removed. But almost everything indicated that it was likely cancerous, what they call a recurrence.”

Chavez, 57, said he will undergo radiation therapy once the scarring process finishes and doesn’t rule out other kinds of treatment. Doctors determined that there was no metastasis in his body, he said in the 90-minute appearance in which he tried to project the image of leadership Venezuelans have grown accustomed to during his 13-year rule by invoking his 19th century political hero Simon Bolivar, discussing his government’s policies and even breaking into song.

The former paratrooper is recovering from an operation to remove a lesion from the same pelvic area from which doctors removed a baseball-sized tumor about eight months ago. Chavez has declined to say exactly what kind of cancer he has or allow access to his medical records. Since last year he’s undergone four rounds of chemotherapy.

‘Like the Condor’

Chavez said his vital signs, including blood pressure, were favorable and that he had no fever, hemorrhages or infections. Scarring is occurring at a normal pace, and digestion also is normal, Chavez said.

“The recovery is real, sustained, progressive and fast,” said Chavez. “I am flying like the condor.”

Venezuelan debt returned the most in emerging markets last month as investors boosted holdings of the oil producer’s bonds on speculation that Chavez’s deteriorating health will prevent him from seeking re-election.

The nation’s bonds returned 14 percent through Feb. 28, compared to 7.4 percent for the Ivory Coast, 5.2 percent for Vietnam and 3.1 percent for Belarus, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s EMBI Global index. Year-to-date, Venezuela’s dollar bonds have returned 23 percent.

Call for Unity

Accompanied by Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro and other ministers, Chavez said he’s been supervising his cabinet, while following doctors’ orders not to work. Chavez discussed his government’s housing and employment programs and rejected what he called aggression against Syria.

Chavez said he is in good shape to receive radiation therapy, adding that he would later provide more information on the treatment. His doctors are optimistic, Chavez said.

As the broadcast ended, Chavez called for unity within his United Socialist Party amid opposition speculation of infighting about who would succeed him if he’s unfit to compete in the October vote. Vice President Elias Jaua, speaking in an interview earlier yesterday, said no one in the party aspires to be Chavez’s successor.

“We will live and we will conquer,” Chavez said at the end of the video. “We are human and we are extinguishable, especially when you lead a life like mine, with years that seemed like a hundred.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Corina Pons in Caracas at; Jose Orozco in Caracas at

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

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