Chavez calls TV channel to dispel rumours of death


A healthy-sounding President Hugo Chavez called Venezuelan state television from Cuba yesterday to dispel rumours fanned by a nine-day silence that he had died undergoing cancer treatment at a hospital in Havana.

Since leaving for Cuba on 14 April to undergo radiation treatment for an undisclosed cancer, Chavez had only addressed Venezuelans by short messages on Twitter to cheer supporters and hail the advances of his socialist "revolution". Chavez's unusually long silence had stirred speculation about his health.

"It seems we will have to become accustomed to live with these rumours, because it is part of the laboratories of psychological war, of dirty war," the 57-year-old said.

Chavez said the cancer therapy was "hard" and added that he needed to rest, but that he was recovering and planned to return to Caracas on Thursday – although he would still need another radiation session.