Chavez recovers after undergoing cancer surgery

 

Caracas

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez came out of cancer surgery on Monday night in Cuba and is recovering in a hospital, sources reported yesterday.

The 57-year-old returned to Havana last week for more surgery despite having said he was cured after two procedures last year. That has fuelled doubts about his ability to campaign for re-election in October, or to govern if he won the poll.

Last night Venezuela's Vice-President, Elias Jaua said the operation had been a success and that a lesion in Mr Chavez's pelvic region was completely removed. The announcement was greeted with cheers in the National Assembly.

A prominent opposition-leaning Venezuelan journalist, Nelson Bocaranda, said that the President was "well" after the procedure, which a medical source said had lasted 90 minutes. Mr Chavez's government responded to criticism of the secrecy surrounding his condition by naming Health Minister Eugenia Sader last week as its spokeswoman on the issue.

Before he left on Friday, Mr Chavez said he would need surgery on a lesion found in his pelvis where a large cancerous tumour was removed last June. He has also said he might need radiation treatment after the latest operation.

Before the announcement that he would need more surgery, opinion polls showed Venezuelans broadly split with a third pro-Chavez, a third pro-opposition and a third undecided.

But the polls indicate that Mr Chavez might have a slight edge in voter enthusiasm because of his popularity among the poor.

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