Chávez appears on TV to deny health rumor

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has gone on television to dismiss rumors about his health, a day after a newspaper reported he had been rushed to a hospital with kidney failure linked to his treatment for cancer.

The televised images Thursday showed Chávez, wearing a baseball cap and a red top, tossing a softball on the grounds of the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas. The Venezuelan leader also criticized the news media for inquiring too much about the details of his condition. President Chávez has not said what type of cancer he has.

In a telephone interview earlier in the day with state television, Chávez urged Venezuelans to “pay no attention to rumors.” On Wednesday, Miami-based Spanish-language newspaper El Nuevo Herald, citing anonymous sources, said the Venezuelan leader had been taken to a military hospital for emergency care. Chávez did not specify from where he was calling, but did say he was working at “half-speed” while undergoing therapy.

Chávez had a cancerous tumor removed from his pelvic area in Cuba in June. Since then, he has undergone four rounds of chemotherapy, three of those sessions in Cuba.

He has pledged to run for a new, six-year term in next year’s elections.

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