Venezuela’s Chávez faces new operation for cancer

Venezuela’s president says he is once again facing surgery for cancer and that the operation will take place in the coming days.

The president, Hugo Chávez, announced on state television Tuesday that doctors in Cuba had detected a two-centimeter lesion in his pelvis, where a tumor was removed last year.

“In the medical examination conducted in Havana, a lesion was detected in the same place where the tumor was removed almost a year ago,” he said. “It is a small lesion, about 2 centimeters in diameter, clearly visible. This lesion must be extracted, which means I must undergo another operation which is supposed to be less complicated than the last one. I am in good physical shape to confront this new battle.”

Rumors that Chávez was seriously ill began circulating after he took an unannounced trip to Havana Saturday.

The Venezuelan leader said his body shows no signs the cancer has spread, and he said doctors do not yet know if the new lesion is malignant.

Last year, the 57-year-old Chávez had two operations and underwent chemotherapy in Caracas and Havana, though he has never specified exactly what kind of cancer he has. Since his treatments ended, the Venezuelan leader had been saying he was cancer free.

The president remains popular and is seeking a third six-year term in October elections.

He was first elected in 1998 and then won elections in 2000 and 2006.

Chávez is a vehement critic of the United States and an ally of Communist-ruled Cuba.

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