Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has said he will need radiation treatment for cancer during the run-up to his country's October presidential poll, even though he insisted there was no evidence of metastasis after the removal of another tumor.
"I will live! I will overcome!" the 57-year-old socialist leader said in a televised meeting on Saturday with some cabinet colleagues from Cuba, where he underwent an operation six days ago for a recurrence of the cancer that first struck him last year.
Chavez's comments about his health came at the end of a 90-minute address to Venezuelans, in which he expressed confidence in his recovery.
He is seeking to extend his 13-year rule at a presidential election in October, but his health problems have raised doubts about his capacity to campaign for the presidency or to rule for another six-year term should he win.
Last year, Chavez claimed to be completely cured.
Some Venezuelans are skeptical about his own diagnostics and rumors persist in some pro-opposition media circles that he could be dying.
Chavez’s election rival, 39-year-old opposition leader and Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles, is keeping quiet on the health saga, simply wishing Chavez a speedy recovery.
But Capriles may benefit politically from the contrast between his own image of youth and energy and that of the ailing president.
In Chavez's comments from Cuba, shown on Sunday but recorded on Saturday, he said: "We are all human; we are all extinguishable, more so with the life I have had, where one year seems like a hundred."
He stormed to power as an outsider for the 1998 election and has since then survived street protests, a brief coup, an oil strike and the opprobrium of the United States.
Chavez gave no word on when he would return to Venezuela.
He said speculators who suggested his cancer had spread - or metastasized - to other organs, had “nothing better to do”.
"They (doctors) proved the absence of any other lesions either locally, or in nearby organs, or in ones further away. Neither was there metastasis, thank God."
A two-centimeter (0.8-inch) tumor had been successfully removed from the same pelvic area where a larger, baseball-sized growth was taken out in 2011, Chavez said.
"My recovery is firm, fast and sustained, honestly," but radiation would be needed, the president said, without giving details of how long it would take.
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|Allen L. Jasson|
|William A. Cook|