President Hugo Chavez left Venezuela today to continue radiation therapy in Cuba as part of treatment for an undisclosed type of cancer, six months before seeking re-election.
Chavez, who spoke earlier in a nationwide broadcast from the presidential palace in Caracas, said that this will be the second of five radiation sessions in an attempt to prevent cancerous tumors from returning. He returned to Caracas from his first session in Cuba on March 29.
“I have faith that the threat that was incubated in my body won’t return,” Chavez said. He boarded the presidential plane this evening accompanied by one of his daughters and a grandson while his ministers bid him farewell on the tarmac, according to images broadcast on state television.
The 57-year-old self-declared socialist revolutionary has undergone three operations in Cuba since being diagnosed with cancer in June. He announced a recurrence in February after receiving chemotherapy. Chavez, who will seek re-election in October, will return April 4 or 5 to Venezuela for several days before continuing treatment in the communist Caribbean island.
The campaign for the Oct. 7 presidential elections officially begins July 1. Chavez will face 39-year-old governor of Miranda state Henrique Capriles Radonski, who won a primary in February by a landslide.
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