CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez told his countrymen Thursday night he underwent surgery in Cuba to remove a cancerous tumor but is recovering, seeking to cool growing questions about his health and ability to govern.
Chavez said in a televised talk that the operation took out a growth in which there were “cancerous cells.” He said the surgery was done after an initial June 10 operation for the removal of a pelvic abscess.
He called his situation “this new battle that life has placed before us.”
Clearly thinner and apparently paler after his surgeries, Chavez read from a prepared speech with a serious expression.
It was unclear what type of cancer is involved or what Chavez’s treatment will be. He said it had been a “fundamental error” to not have taken better care of his health through medical checks.
Chavez did not say how much longer he expected to remain in Cuba recovering.
He said the first surgery was for a “strange formation in the pelvic region that required an emergency operation due to the imminent risk of a generalized infection.”
After that surgery, Chavez said, doctors began to suspect other problems. A series of tests “confirmed the presence of an abscessed tumor with the presence of cancerous cells, which made necessary a second operation that allowed for the complete extraction of the tumor,” he said.
Chavez said his condition has been “evolving satisfactorily while I receive a complementary treatment to combat the different types of cells found, and thereby continue on the path to my complete recovery.”
His appearance came after government efforts, including Tuesday’s release of photos and video showing Chavez with Fidel Castro, failed to quell growing speculation among Venezuelans that he may be seriously ill.