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Chavez undergoes surgery in Cuba
Venezuelan president in "good physical condition" after latest operation in Cuba to remove pelvic lesion, officials say.
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 07:06
Chavez underwent a second operation following the removal of a cancerous tumour last year [Reuters]

Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president, is in "good physical condition" after surgeons in Cuba removed a lesion from his pelvic area, authorities say.

The latest operation followed Chavez's surgery to remove a cancerous tumour, also in the pelvic area, last year.

"The diagnosed pelvic lesion was totally extracted," said Elias Jaua, the country's vice-president, in a speech broadcast to the public on Tuesday, adding that surrounding tissue was also removed and there were "no complications" with nearby organs.

Cuban state TV said Chavez, 57, was operated on successfully on Monday at the Centre for Medical-Surgical Research (CIMEQ), which is considered Cuba's most modern hospital.

Venezuelan officials have not specified the kind of cancer Chavez has, but they have denied the disease has spread to other organs.

Jaua said doctors would study the results of the latest operation to determine "the optimum way to treat the lesion".

Henry Rangel, the Venezuelan defence minister, speaking on official television, said the news was received "with extraordinary pleasure" by the armed forces.

Chavez announced that he was cancer-free last October. On February 21, however, he said that a small lesion had been discovered in the same area as his initial tumour.

Presidential elections

Chavez's health has become a source of open debate among both supporters and critics of the controversial socialist leader as the South American country builds up towards presidential elections in October in which Chavez looks set to face the sternest electoral challenge to his rule since coming to power in 1999.

He faces a strong challenge from 39-year-old Henrique Capriles, who was chosen as the sole opposition candidate in a primary election earlier this month.

WikiLeaks published emails on Sunday from Texas-based intelligence firm Stratfor, including one from a Venezuelan source who said that Cuban doctors gave Chavez two years to live, while Russian sources suggested he could have les than a year, due to improper medical equipment.

As during his initial cancer care in Havana last year, Chavez did not delegate power to Jaua as some opposition members sought.

Chavez has used Venezuela's vast oil wealth to fund popular social programmes and to help his communist ally Cuba, as well as courting anti-US allies including Iran and Muammar Gaddafi's Libya.

In Washington, where the US government has long been at odds with Chavez, the US undersecretary of state for political affairs wished Chavez well.

"Everyone hopes he recovers and life moves on," said Wendy Sherman on Tuesday. "We obviously have a difference of views on how the future of Venezuela ought to be," she added.

Source:
Agencies
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