CARACAS – President Hugo Chavez is in “good physical condition” after an operation in Cuba for a lesion in the same part of his body where Cuban surgeons removed a cancerous tumor last June, the Venezuelan government said Tuesday.
Vice President Elias Jaua provided the medical update at the beginning of a speech to the National Assembly.
This is the first official report on the leftist president’s health since he arrived in Havana last Friday.
“The complete extraction of the diagnosed pelvic lesion was performed, along with the removal of tissue surrounding the lesion. There were no complications related to local organs,” according to the note read by Jaua.
“President Chavez is in good physical condition,” the vice president said amid cheers from lawmakers.
Chavez gave orders that the medical report be made public, Jaua said, because he is “always eager to keep the Venezuelan people and the international community opportunely informed with exactitude and transparency.”
The 57-year-old Chavez, who has never provided details on the precise nature of the tumor removed last year, underwent several rounds of chemotherapy after the initial surgery before announcing in October that he was cancer-free.
News of a new medical problem has roiled the campaign for Venezuela’s October presidential election, in which Chavez – who took office in 1999 – will face Henrique Capriles, a former state governor backed by a broad coalition of opposition parties.
Jaua’s report on Chavez’s condition came hours after Spanish dailies Publico and El Pais published a document from a U.S. private intelligence firm asserting that the Venezuelan president is mortally ill.
The document is part of a trove of millions of e-mails from the Texas-based Stratfor company that was obtained by WikiLeaks.
In a Dec. 5, 2011, e-mail sent to Stratfor CEO George Friedman, the firm’s director of analysis, Reva Bhalla, cites a “well-connected VZ (Venezuelan) source working with Israel” who describes disagreements between the Cuban and Russian doctors treating Chavez.
“The Russian team blamed the Cubans for an improper surgery the first time in trying to remove the tumor” and said Cuba lacks the “right imagery treatment to properly treat Chavez,” the source told Bhalla.
“The second surgery over the summer was basically the Russian team trying to clean up the Cuban team’s mistakes,” according to the source.
While the Cuban doctors think Chavez has two years to live, the Russian diagnosis, “due to improper medical equipment, is less than one year,” the unnamed source said.
The informant said that Chavez’s tumor began as a growth near the prostate and spread to the colon, and that the “cancer has spread to the lymph nodes and into the bone marrow up to the spine, i.e. very serious.” EFE