CARACAS, Saturday December 08, 2012 | Update
CHÁVEZ'S HEALTH | Medical tests found "malignant cells"

Chávez has cancer again; appoints VP Nicolás Maduro as his successor

The Venezuelan president announced that he is to undergo a new cancer surgery. Therefore, he is returning to Havana, Cuba. In a mandatory nationwide radio and television broadcast he signed a letter requesting authorization from the National Assembly to leave Venezuela. He nominated Executive Vice-President Nicolás Maduro, who is now the acting president, as the candidate to the presidency in the event that he is unable to end his current term in office

Chávez delivered a letter to Diosdado Cabello, the Speaker of the National Assembly, requesting authorization to leave the country for medical reasons (Photo: state-run news agency AVN)
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Saturday December 08, 2012  11:01 PM
Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez late on Saturday acknowledged that a number of medical tests he underwent in Havana, Cuba, found recurrent malignant cells in the area previously affected by a cancerous tumor. Therefore, he said, he will have to undergo a new cancer surgery over the next few days.

"You know my dear friends, my dear Venezuelan women and men, that it is not my style to hold a cadena (nationwide radio and television mandatory broadcast) in a Saturday night, and at this hour, 9:30 pm, but the circumstances have forced me to talk to you, Venezuelan people," said Chávez from the main office of the Miraflores presidential palace, flanked by several members of his executive cabinet.

But the reason of his address to the nation was disclosed 14 minutes later. "Unfortunately, comprehensive tests (performed in Cuba) found the presence, in the same area (previously) affected, of malignant (cancerous) cells. It has been decided that it is absolutely necessary and essential to undergo further surgery. This (his new cancer operation) should happen in the coming days. Doctors even recommended performing the surgery yesterday (Friday) or this weekend at the latest."

He conceded that he came back to Venezuela early on Friday only to inform the country about his situation.

"Actually, I decided to return (to Venezuela) making an additional effort, because pains are considerable somehow," he said.

Further, Chávez asked Venezuelans to vote Nicolás Maduro, the Venezuelan Executive Vice-President and Foreign Minister, in the event that he is unable to end his term in office or take office next January 10 for his new term (2013-2019). In such a scenario, a new presidential election has to be held, as provided for under the Venezuelan Constitution.

Chávez announced that he is traveling back to Havana, Cuba, on Sunday, for a new cancer surgery. During his recent stay in the Caribbean island, he received hyperbaric oxygen treatment, and a number of tests found the recurrence of a cancer first diagnosed in mid-2010.

During his speech, Chávez signed a letter requesting authorization from the National Assembly to leave Venezuela for more than five days in order to receive medical treatment.
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