Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has undergone cancer surgery and is recuperating in Cuba at a hospital in Havana.
His vice president, Nicolas Maduro, made the announcement Tuesday, adding the surgery was successful.
Chávez returned to Cuba Monday for more cancer surgery, after a recurrence of the disease led him to name his vice president as his chosen successor should he be forced from office.
His friend, Ecuador’s President Rafael Correa, said earlier that Chávez was undergoing a very delicate operation. Correa, who spoke in Ecuador, had visited Chávez in Cuba Monday.
Chávez, who was re-elected in October, acknowledged the seriousness of his situation in a televised address late Saturday. He said Vice President Maduro would take over if he is incapacitated, and he urged supporters to vote for Maduro if an election were held.
The South American leader said his Cuban medical team told him it is absolutely necessary that he undergo the new operation.
More than 1,000 supporters of the 58-year-old Chávez gathered Sunday in downtown Caracas to show solidarity, while lawmakers unanimously agreed to grant him permission to leave the country for treatment.
While lacking the president’s charisma, Maduro is popular among Chavez’s supporters because of his close ties to the president. The 50-year-old former bus driver and trade unionist has been foreign minister since 2006 and was named vice president in October.
Chávez, who had just returned from Cuba early Friday, said tests had found a return of some malignant cells in the same area where tumors were previously removed. He said his doctors had recommended he have the surgery right away, but that he had told them he wanted to return to Venezuela first.
The socialist leader had undergone operations in Cuba to remove tumors from his pelvic region. He has also had chemotherapy and radiation treatments. The president has never disclosed the type or severity of the cancer.
Chávez is scheduled to be sworn in for a new six-year term Jan. 10. He has been in office for nearly 14 years, since 1999.