Chavez to go again to Cuba for radiotherapy

Last Updated: Saturday, April 7, 2012 - 13:47

Caracas: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said
he will be travelling to Cuba again on Saturday to undergo a third
round of radiotherapy in the hope of beating his cancer
diagnosed last year.

"Tomorrow night I will again fly to Cuba to continue my
battle for my life and health," the Venezuelan leader told
state television yesterday.

Chavez made the announcement after spending some time with
family members in his native state of Barinas in the west of
the country.

He said he will meet with Vice President Elias Jaua,
Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro and other members of the
cabinet before the departure.

Chavez, 57, who is facing a tough re-election fight this
year, is expected to complete five weeks of radiation
treatment in Havana, but return home for brief periods during
that time.

He completed the first two rounds of treatment in Havana,
where he had surgery last month to remove a malignant tumour
in the same area where another tumour was excised in June
2011.

Officials in Caracas have never specified the type of
cancer the president has, but insist it has not spread to
other organs.

However, Chavez broke into tears Thursday when he went to
church in Barinas accompanied by his parents, children and
other family members. He explained later that emotions caused
by the proximity of his loved ones had overwhelmed him and he
could not hold back tears.

"It was a spontaneous, sentimental thing," Chavez said on
Friday. "My father and mother stood next to me. And suddenly
we took each other`s hands. My mom gave me her hand with such
tenderness, and dad gave me his ... And because of this tears
rolled down my face."

His prior stay in Havana lasted exactly five days,
allowing him to head off criticism that he had left Venezuela
without permission from the National Assembly, which must
authorise a president`s absence if it exceeds that length of
time.

The cancer comes at an awkward time for Chavez, who is in
the thick of what is expected to be a tough reelection
campaign. He has ruled out the possibility of a replacement
candidate.

Chavez faces a stiff challenge from 39-year-old state
governor Henrique Capriles, who was chosen to represent a
unified opposition in primaries earlier this year.

Some 18 million Venezuelans will be eligible to vote in
the October ballots.

PTI




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