May 25, 2013
Chávez to return to Cuba for more chemotherapy
Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez said he will return to Cuba for a second session of chemotherapy to treat a cancer that has forced him to slow his pace ahead of a re-election bid next year.
Chávez, who had surgery in Havana in June to remove a baseball-sized tumor, told state TV in a phone call that he would undergo medical tests in Cuba on Sunday and could resume chemotherapy treatment on Monday depending on the results.
"My evolution continues to be favorable. Recent tests show that. My physical condition is still not the best," the 57-year-old socialist leader said.
Chávez said his trip to Cuba could last five days.
Last month, Chávez spent a week undergoing chemotherapy on the communist-led Caribbean island as the guest of his close friend and mentor, former Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
He has not said exactly what type of cancer he has, denying media reports of prostate or colon cancer and repeating that doctors have found no malignant cells in his body.
The illness has forced Chávez to cut back dramatically on his marathon speeches and famously long public appearances.
Critics fear he could use his disease to garner sympathy and support at a time when opposition parties sense a chance to end his 12-year rule at next year's election.
The opposition has accused him of putting Venezuela's national security at risk by governing from Cuba while recuperating. But the president said the public understood why he was traveling abroad to seek the best possible care.
"Beyond the cries and screams of those calling for a coup, in desperation, the people support my decision to continue treatment," Chávez said in his call to state TV.
During his illness he has made repeated appearances on state media, apparently to demonstrate he remains in control, and the phone call was his fifth such appearance of the day.