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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez admits his cancer has returned

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
December 10th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Ending weeks of speculation about his health, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced this past weekend that his cancer has returned and that fly to Cuba to undergo surgery. The admission was made during a televised address from Venezuelan presidential palace. Chavez says that if his health worsens, Vice President Nicolas Maduro should replace him.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Chavez has cut a very large swatch among South American politics and society. His admission about the recurrence of his disease, as well as who should be his successor in the event of his incapacitation or death, came as a shock to the Latin American world.

"It's absolutely necessary, absolutely vital that I undergo a new operation," Chavez declared in the address.

Repeatedly kissing a cross, Chavez at one point broke out into song. "An operation like this, an illness like this, always carries risk," he said. "If something were to happen that would incapacitate me, Nicholas Maduro should not only finish my term as the constitution requires ... You should also elect Nicholas Maduro to be president."

A special session of parliament was convened to consider Chavez's health and his pending trip to Cuba, Diosdado Cabello, president of the Venezuelan National Assembly, said on state-run TV. The parliament is required under the constitution to approve any trip that takes the president out of the country for more than five days.

Chavez had returned last week from Cuba after receiving medical treatment. He said that doctors there detected malignant cells and that he expects to undergo surgery in the coming days.

The precise nature of Chavez's illnesses remains mired in mystery. The president has repeatedly spoken publicly about his cancer battle -- but has never specified what type he has.

Chavez, who had surgery in 2011 to remove a cancerous tumor, has undergone further operations and radiation therapy in Cuba. He declared himself cancer-free last July.

The government has released few specifics, fueling widespread speculation about his health and political future.

Chavez won re-election earlier this year, even while health rumors dogged Chavez on the campaign trail.

Details of his health, however, have been a closely held secret, and some people who claim to have insider knowledge say the president is in much worse condition than he publicly lets on.

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