Chavez heads to Cuba for new round of radiation treatment
CARACAS -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Saturday he was traveling to Cuba for a second round of radiation therapy as part of his back-and-forth cancer treatment in Havana.
“I leave this afternoon for Havana ... to continue with my radiation treatment,” Chavez said before leaving the Miraflores Palace.
“There are five sessions of radiotherapy ... for five consecutive days, then two days of rest ... With this I have faith that (the cancer) inside my body will not return.”
Chavez, 57, who is facing a tough re-election fight this year, is expected to complete five weeks of radiation treatment in Havana, but return home for brief periods during that time.
He completed the first round in Havana, where he had surgery last month to remove a malignant tumor in the same area where another tumor was excised in June 2011.
Officials in Caracas have never specified the type of cancer the president has, but insist it has not spread to other organs.
His prior stay in Havana lasted exactly five days, allowing him to head off criticism that he had left Venezuela without permission from the National Assembly, which must authorize a president's absence if it exceeds that length of time.
The cancer comes at an awkward time for Chavez, who is in the thick of what is expected to be a tough reelection campaign. He has ruled out the possibility of a replacement candidate.
Chavez faces a stiff challenge from 39-year-old state governor Henrique Capriles, who was chosen to represent a unified opposition in primaries earlier this year.
Some 18 million Venezuelans will be eligible to vote in the October ballots.
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