Caracas, Feb 22 (IANS/EFE) Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who is running for re-election in October, announced Tuesday that he will have to undergo a new operation because “a lesion” was detected in the area from where last year he had a cancerous tumor removed.
“I regret to inform the Venezuelan public, and I very much regret it because I know that, just as some are happy (about it), the majority will suffer because of it,” he said.
“I deny that it has metastized … that I’m dying,” he added upon ending a nearly two-hour televised address from a factory in his home state of Barinas, to which he said he had come directly from Havana after traveling there last weekend for a medical checkup.
The president said that Wednesday he will offer more details on his condition.
“With the help of the Virgin … and with this desire to live for you that I have, we will get through this,” Chavez added in a calm voice.
The surgery he is to be subjected to will allow doctors to verify, he said, “if that lesion is linked with the earlier tumour or not and we will report on that … after the operation”, he said.
Regarding when and where he will be operated on, Chavez said only that the surgery will be performed “in the coming days” and at a yet-to-be-determined location, although there are “several possibilities”.
He also remarked that he had “completely” denied the media accounts that his cancer had metastized “into the liver or I don’t know where else, that the cancer has spread throughout my body and that I’m dying”.
“No, no. On the contrary, and this is good news, the rigorously done exams in Havana show that I have no metastasis anywhere,” he said.
Chavez also revealed that he had intended to announce the news Wednesday, but “the rumors that I had metastasis” forced him to do so a day early.
The Venezuelan leader’s announcement had been preceded by rumours that had been multiplying since last Thursday, when Brazilian journalist Merval Pereira said that the Oct 7 Venezuelan presidential elections could be affected by Chavez’s health.
According to Pereira, who confirmed that his sources were Brazilian doctors whom he did not identify but who analyzed the latest examinations made of Chavez and said that the cancer that had been diagnosed in Cuba last June had not stopped developing.
On the heels of that, Monday Venezuelan reporter Nelson Bocaranda said that Chavez had had to make an urgent trip to Cuba because of a worsening of his health.
The 57-year-old socialist head of state’s rival is Henrique Capriles, chosen in a primary by supporters of a coalition of opposition parties.
Chavez, who has been president since 1999, said last Friday in another televised event that he could not promise that he would continue leading the country “beyond 2019″.
The former army colonel was first elected in 1998 and then confirmed in a fresh vote after the enactment of a new constitution. Chavez survived a recall referendum in 2004 and won a second full six-year term in 2006.