Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has said he is returning to Havana for a second round of cancer treatment, in a televised address to supporters, the Associated Press reports.
The 57-year-old is undergoing radiotherapy following surgery in the Cuban capital on February 26 which the president said removed a tumor from his pelvic region.
On his return, he made it clear he would be travelling back and forth to the Communist-run Caribbean island for treatment, saying he planned to undergo one session a day for five consecutive days, then fly home to rest for a couple of days.
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Chavez, a close friend of Cuba’s revolutionary leader Fidel Castro and his younger brother President Raul Castro, has yet to disclose what type of cancer he has, fuelling speculation that his health may be worse than has been publicly disclosed.
The president had another tumor removed from his pelvic area in June.
In his address Saturday, the leftist leader, in power since 1999, said he was determined to overcome his illness and win a third term as president in elections set for October 7, according to the BBC.
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Chavez has rejected calls from the opposition to name a formal replacement during his absences in Cuba, insisting he can govern from his hospital bed, Reuters reports.
He faces a strong challenge in the upcoming presidential contest from the 39-year-old Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles, who is representing a unified opposition movement, according to the Agence France Presse.
Recent polls have put Chavez safely ahead of Capriles, thanks to the president’s exploitation of the country’s vast oil wealth to fund popular social programs.
A survey released Thursday by the Caracas polling firm Dantanalisis said nearly 45 percent of those polled indicated they would vote for Chavez, while 31 percent supported Capriles, the Christian Science Monitor reported.
However, about 25 percent were undecided.
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