Hugo Chavez admits he had cancer surgery in Cuba
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez admitted that he had had a cancerous tumor removed from his abdomen after questions had swirled for weeks about the health of the leader who has been away from his country for nearly a month, dpa reported.
Chavez's announcement was broadcast Thursday on Venezuelan television and radio after being recorded in Cuba, where he underwent the surgery and has been recovering.
He said he had undergone an initial surgery June 10 for a pelvic abscess, news that had been released previously, but he also said a second surgery was required to remove the malignant growth.
The message was released a day after a video of Chavez, 56, with Cuba's former president Fidel Castro was aired and helped calm uncertainty about Chavez's health. The Venezuelan leader had looked thinner than usual and his hair was shorter, but both men appeared to be in good moods, were dressed in sports clothes, and were shown chatting and walking.
The date for Chavez's return to Venezuela, however, remained unknown. He did not give one in Thursday's message, and his government in Caracas has not informed the public of his condition and has said only that he would return soon.
Chavez left Venezuela June 6 for a trip to Ecuador, Brazil and Cuba. He become ill on the final day of the trip.
Venezuelan Vice President Elias Jaua insisted Wednesday that Chavez continued to lead the country and its government, but his absence prompted the Foreign Ministry to postpone a summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States that was to have been held July 5 in Venezuela.
The country also is to celebrate the bicentennial of its independence on July 5, and the president's return before then was uncertain.