May 24, 2013
Chávez arrives in Cuba for medical treatment
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez flew into Cuba today for cancer-linked medical treatment that revived questions about the viability of his socialist rule and left many guessing about his exact condition.
After weeks of scarce public appearances, Chavez, 58, announced in a letter yesterday that he was going to Havana for therapy known as "hyperbaric oxygenation" - a method used to reduce bone decay caused by radiation therapy.
Communist Party daily Granma confirmed his arrival in Cuba.
The newly re-elected Venezuelan president has staged what appeared to be a remarkable comeback from an undisclosed type of cancer diagnosed in June 2011, declaring himself ‘cured’ and travelling frequently to Cuba for chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
In October this year, he was re-elected for a third term.
He again pronounced himself cancer-free in mid-2012 after removal of a second tumor.
Despite this, Chavez appeared exhausted at the end of his successful presidential re-election bid in October. He later admitted radiation had taken its toll.
Chavez has an open-ended authorization from Congress to travel, but a is to be back at least for the Jan. 10 start of his new term, if not for a couple of regional summits before.
Chavez's return to Cuba overshadowed the buildup to state elections on December 16, where the opposition aims to overcome disappointment at the presidential loss to make inroads.
A prolonged absence could potentially postpone major policy decisions, such as a widely expected devaluation of the Bolivar currency after heavy pre-election state spending.