Venezuela's Chavez gears for surgery as cancer relapses
Caracas: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is braced to undergo yet another surgery operation in Cuba as his cancer has relapsed, he said Saturday night.
The president, who just returned from Cuba early Friday, said tests had shown a return of "some malignant cells" in the same area where tumors were previously removed.
Speaking in a TV address, Chavez said it was "absolutely essential" that he received further treatment.
Moreover Chavez also mentioned Vice President Nicolas Maduro as his successor. This is the first time, Chavez has named someone to succeed him though he has undergone three cancer operations in Cuba since mid-2011.
Chavez named Maduro, his longtime foreign minister, as his choice for vice president three days after winning re-election. Maduro, a burly former bus driver, has shown unflagging loyalty and become a leading spokesman for Venezuela's socialist leader in recent years.
"We should guarantee the advance of the Bolivarian Revolution," Chavez said on television, seated at the presidential palace with Maduro and other aides.
"You all elect Nicolas Maduro as president," Chavez said, holding a small blue copy of the constitution in his hands and waving it.
The 58-year-old president first underwent cancer surgery for an unspecified type of pelvic cancer in Cuba in June 2011, after an operation for a pelvic abscess earlier in the month found the cancer. He had another cancer surgery last February after a tumor appeared in the same area. He has also undergone chemotherapy and radiation treatments.
Chavez said tests immediately after his re-election win had shown no sign of cancer. But he said he had swelling and pain, which he thought was due to "the effort of the campaign and the radiation therapy treatment."
"It's a very sensitive area, so we started to pay a lot of attention to that," he said, adding that he had reduced his public appearances.
Chavez made his most recent trip to Cuba on the night of Nov. 27, saying he would receive hyperbaric oxygen treatment. Such treatment is regularly used to help heal tissues damaged by radiation treatment.
Chavez said that he has been coping with pain and that while he was in Cuba thorough exams detected the recurrence of cancer.
He arrived back in Caracas on Friday after 10 days of medical treatment in Cuba, but until Saturday night had not referred to his health. His unexplained decision to skip a summit of regional leaders in Brazil on Friday had raised suspicions among many Venezuelans that his health had taken a turn for the worse.
Chavez said that he was requesting permission from lawmakers to travel to Havana.
With Agency Inputs