Caracas: President Hugo Chavez said on Saturday that he will undergo his next round of chemotherapy in Venezuela instead of Cuba, where he has had previous cancer treatments.
Chavez said he would check in to the Military Hospital in Caracas on Saturday night and would begin his third phase of chemotherapy soon. He had the last two rounds of chemotherapy in Cuba.
"I`m not going to go to Cuba this time. In the coming hours, between today and tomorrow we`ll be preparing for the third cycle," Chavez said during a televised Cabinet meeting.
Later, he appeared on a balcony of the presidential palace waving to a crowd of cheering supporters. They included a group that played Afro-Venezuelan music, beating on drums and dancing. Some chanted: "Onward, commander!"
The leftist leader swung his hips to the music and saluted black Venezuelans, saying: "Down with racism."
Chavez expressed optimism that he is overcoming cancer, referring to the "illness I had”. He said he was making arrangements with his vice president, Elias Jaua, and other officials to "continue with this rhythm of treatment”.
He said his medical team decided on administering the chemotherapy in Venezuela after his latest round of medical tests on Friday.
Chavez underwent surgery in Cuba that removed a cancerous tumour from his pelvic region in June. He has not specified where the tumour was located but said the latest follow-up tests haven`t detected any sign of malignant cells in his body.
He said the chemotherapy is a preventive measure aimed at preventing cancer cells from reappearing.
Chavez has appeared with his head shaved the past few weeks after his hair began to fall out as a result of chemotherapy.
The President said he expects to disappear from public view in the coming days but will remain in contact with government officials and his supporters by phone and Twitter.