Following days of rumors and press reports on President Hugo Chávez's recurring health problems, many of which cited unnamed sources, the Venezuelan leader admitted Tuesday that he will have to undergo further cancer surgery after doctors in Cuba detected "a lesion" in the same area from which they removed a baseball-sized tumor last summer.
Speaking from a tractor-manufacturing plant set up by Belarus investors in Barinas state, the 57-year-old Chávez acknowledged that last weekend he traveled to Cuba, where doctors found the problem.
"This means that I will have to undergo more surgery to remove the lesion. In other words, they will operate on me once again so they can verify whether it is related to the prior tumor and then they will let me know," he said. On June 30, 2011 Chávez announced that he had undergone surgery in Cuba for a tumor near the pelvic area and would receive cancer treatment, including chemotherapy, on the island. The Venezuelan government has never disclosed what type of cancer he has.
Since Sunday, news of the severity of his condition began flashing across the social networks, including Twitter. On Monday, noted Venezuelan journalist Nelson Bocaranda was the first to publish on his webpage that Chávez had traveled to Havana and may need more surgery. "I have written many times on this page and in my column in El Universal that the chief of state has paid no attention to his doctors or his family - not even to the octogenarian Fidel Castro - after he has been warned that he needs rest in order to recover from his illness and the devastating effects of chemotherapy," Bocaranda wrote.
Chávez's announcement has stirred more speculation over his chances of running for re-election in October. Barclays Capital said in a research note released on Wednesday and quoted by Reuters that his new health situation has "increased chances" that Chávez won't be able to weather the grueling campaign trail.
"As one of God's people, I wish my rival a successful operation, a quick recovery and a long life," said Chávez's opponent Henrique Capriles Radonski on his Twitter account Tuesday.
For his part, Chávez, who didn't say when he will be having the surgery - "it should be in the next few days," was as far as he went - insists that he will triumph in his latest health battle.
"No one should be alarmed and no one should be happy because of this - the revolution continues to grow stronger each day and nothing and no one will be able to stop it," he said.