Venezuela’s Chavez in Cuba to Begin Cancer Treatment

Posted July 18th, 2011 at 8:35 am (UTC-5)
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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez arrived in Cuba late Saturday to begin chemotherapy, after undergoing surgery last month to remove a cancerous tumor.

Before boarding his plane in Caracas, Mr. Chavez said he was going away for a few days, but the length of his stay in Cuba is not known.

Earlier in the day, President Chavez delegated some of his powers to Vice President Elias Jaua and Finance Minister Jorge Giordani, after the national assembly approved his trip. He resisted calls from the opposition to temporarily hand over the presidency to the vice president during his absence.

Mr. Chavez had surgery in Cuba to remove the tumor and returned home July 4, one day before Venezuela celebrated the 200th anniversary of its independence from Spain.

The Venezuelan leader did not indicate the type of cancer he had, and questions remain about how sick he is. While in Cuba, Chavez also underwent an operation for what officials said was an abscess in his pelvic area.

The 56-year-old president, who has ruled the South American nation since 1999, told Venezuelans that he intends to remain in control of the country.