Hugo Chavez announces his cancer has returned and he will travel to Cuba for surgery to fight his 'new battle'Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced Saturday night that his cancer has returned The 58-year-old president first underwent cancer surgery for an unspecified type of pelvic cancer in Cuba in June 2011He said he would return to Cuba on Sunday to undergo surgery in the coming days
05:56 GMT, 9 December 2012
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced Saturday night that his cancer has returned and that he will undergo another bout of surgery in Cuba.
Chavez, who won re-election on October 7th, also said for the first time that if his health were to worsen, his successor would be Vice President Nicolas Maduro.
'We should guarantee the advance of the Bolivarian Revolution,' Chavez said on television, seated at the presidential palace with Maduro and other aides.
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Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, (left), speaks with his Defense Minister Diego Molero upon his arrival to Simon Bolivar airport in Maiquetia, near Caracas today
The president said that tests had shown a return of 'some malignant cells' in the same area where tumors were previously removed. He said he would return to Cuba on Sunday to undergo surgery in the coming days.
Chavez called it a 'new battle.' It is to be his third operation to remove cancerous tissue in about a year and a half.
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.
Hugo Chavez, (left), speaks to Cuba's President Raul Castro, (center), before the South American leader departed Cuba for Venezuela on Friday
Chavez made his most recent trip to Cuba on the night of November 27th, 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 and that he hoped to have good news after the surgery.
This news comes just two months after Chavez drafted tanks and soldiers wielding AK-47s onto the streets of Caracas as he won a historic third re-election after almost 14 years in office.
Victory lap: Hugo Chavez waves a Venezuelan flag while speaking to supporters after receiving news of his reelection in Caracas
Celebration: A Chavez supporter revels in the streets after the vote in October
The decision marked the end of a bitter campaign in which the opposition
accused him of unfairly using Venezuela's oil wealth and his near total
control of state institutions to his advantage.
Chavez rallied thousands of supporters from a balcony of the presidential palace as he declared victory, holding up a sword that once belonged to 19th century independence hero Simon Bolivar.
'The revolution has triumphed!' Chavez told the crowd, saying his supporters 'voted for socialism.'
The crowd responded chanting 'Chavez won't go!'
The election triumph gave Chavez a freer hand to push for an even bigger state role in the economy and continue populist programs.
Six more years: The win gives Chavez another term to cement his legacy and press more forcefully for a transition to socialism in the country with the world's largest proven oil reserve
Jumping for joy: Supporters of Hugo Chavez celebrate in the streets as the longtime president won re-election
He pledged before the vote to make a
stronger push for socialism in the next term. He's also likely to
further limit dissent and deepen friendships with U.S. rivals.
A victory for his opponent Henrique Capriles would have brought
a radical foreign policy shift including a halt to preferential oil
deals with allies such as Cuba, along with a loosening of state economic
controls and an increase in private investment.
Good feeling: Chavez gestures to supporters after casting his vote during the election in Caracas
During the election Chavez's critics said the president has inflamed divisions by labeling his opponents 'fascists,' 'Yankees' and 'neo-Nazis,' while Chavez backers alleged Capriles would halt generous government programs that assist the poor.
The news of the return of his cancer is a big blow for his supporters in South America's biggest oil exporter, who elected him in October to a new six-year term in power. Chavez has twice said he was cured, and then had to return to Cuba for more surgery.
In a televised broadcast flanked by ministers at the Miraflores presidential palace, Chavez said that if anything happened to him and a new vote had to be held, his supporters should vote for Vice President Nicolas Maduro – the first time the socialist leader has named a successor.
Chavez returned to Venezuela on Friday from having medical treatment in Cuba, ending a three-week absence from public view.
'Unfortunately, during these exhaustive exams they found some malignant cells in the same area … . It is absolutely necessary, absolutely essential, that I have to undergo a new surgical intervention,' the 58-year-old said, looking resolute.
'With God's will, like on the previous occasions, we will come out of this victorious.'
The president has already had three cancer operations in Cuba since the middle of last year. News of more surgery will likely raise new doubts about his future and the fate of his self-styled 'revolution' in the OPEC nation.
Chavez, who has dominated Venezuelan politics since taking power 14 years ago, said he would return to Havana on Sunday.
Under Venezuela's constitution, an election would have to be held within 30 days if Chavez were to leave office within the first four years of his next term, due to begin on January 10.
The president has been receiving treatment at the Cimeq hospital in Havana as a guest of his friend and political mentor, former Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
Revelry: Chavez supporters celebrate at the Miraflores presidential palace after Chavez's victory was announced
VIDEO: Venezuelans vote in presidential election
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