Chavez celebrates 57th birthday, proposes summit

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez celebrated his 57th birthday vowing to survive cancer and proposing to host a summit of Latin American leaders in December.

Last Updated: Jul 28, 2011, 19:57 PM IST

Caracas: Venezuelan President
Hugo Chavez celebrated his 57th birthday on Thursday vowing to
survive cancer and proposing to host a summit of Latin
American leaders in December.

Chavez said he expects his hair will begin to fall out
soon due to chemotherapy but that he should be finished with
the bulk of his cancer treatments by December.

"At the end of the year, I should have passed this
hard, careful, very, very strict phase," Chavez said in a
telephone interview on state television.

He said he sent letters inviting Latin American and
Caribbean leaders to the summit in Caracas on December 9. That
meeting had originally been scheduled for July 5 and 6 but was
postponed due to Chavez`s illness.

A group of children sang birthday songs for Chavez on
television and blew out a candle on a cake in his honour.

Chavez said that for now he needs to limit his contact
with the public because chemotherapy has weakened him and
lowered his natural immune defenses. But he also said he
planned to address supporters from a balcony of the
presidential palace today.

"I`m going to be here in private with my inner team,"
Chavez said. "But of course, I`m going to the balcony."

He said he was sorry he couldn`t attend today`s
inauguration of Peruvian President Ollanta Humala, and that he
sent his foreign minister in his place.

"I sent a hug to Ollanta," said Chavez, who also
offered a congratulatory message to the Peruvian leader
through his Twitter account.

PTI