May 23, 2013
Colombian president to undergo prostate cancer surgery
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos said on Monday that he would undergo surgery for prostate cancer this week but that the tumor was minor and non-aggressive.
"It's a small tumor located on the prostate gland and it's a good prognosis, it's not aggressive," the 61-year-old Santos said in an address to the nation from the presidential palace in Bogota, flanked by his doctor and his wife.
Santos, who took office two years ago and is about to begin peace talks with Colombia's FARC guerrillas, said he would undergo surgery on Wednesday and that there was a 97 percent chance he would be completely cured.
"I am going to stay in the clinic a few days. I will be subject to a few physical limitations, but I will continue exercising my functions as President of the Republic," he said.
Santos came to power promising to build on the defense advances that began under President Alvaro Uribe and a US-backed military crackdown on drug traffickers and FARC rebels, improving security and attracting foreign investment.
But even as Santos is credited with dealing some of the heaviest blows against the FARC - both as Uribe's defense minister and then as president - there is growing criticism over the perceived loss of some security gains.
Uribe has turned into one of the sharpest critics of his hand-picked successor, warning that investors could be scared away by the discussions due to begin with the FARC.
Santos' surgery will unlikely delay the start of those talks, which are scheduled for the first half of this month.
Negotiations, which will take place in Norway and Cuba, have raised Colombians' hopes of an end to five decades of bloodshed, even though previous governments have repeatedly failed to end Latin America's longest-running insurgency in which tens of thousands have been killed.