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article imageHugo Chavez gets chemo treatment in Cuba, returns to Venezuela

By Joan Firstenberg     Jul 24, 2011 in World
Caracas - Secrecy is the key word when it comes to information about Hugo Chavez's medical problems. The Venezuelan leader just returned from Cuba where he was treated for what's reported to be cancer. But exactly what it is is anybody's guess.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez made a surprise return home Saturday after undergoing the first stage of chemotherapy treatments in Cuba. He had left for Havana one week ago. The Wall Street Journal reports that Chavez addressed his critics who are worried about the legality of the President keeping his governing powers from abroad.
"During the course of this week I have not lost focus on Venezuela for an instant," he said.
Upon his arrival on home soil, Chavez gave a brief public address, stating, "I have kept my word. I have come better than when I left. It's a struggle that is hard and that takes time. We are winning [the struggle], and we will win but it takes time and has its own pace."
Mr. Chavez Said while in Cuba on July 17, he was given an intense screening that did "not detect the presence of malignant cells in any part of my body."
Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez returns from Cuba where he received chemo treatments.
Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez returns from Cuba where he received chemo treatments.
Miraflores Presidential Press Office
But Chavez says he consented to the chemotherapy treatment as a precaution.
To onlookers, Mr. Chavez had lost quite a bit of weight since he suddenly departed for Cuba. The 56-year-old president Chavez indicated that his treatment was not over and that he had been advised by Cuban leader Fidel Castro to make that point clear to his people.
Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez returns from Cuba where he received chemo treatments.
Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez returns from Cuba where he received chemo treatments.
Miraflores Presidential Press Office
There is speculation that Chavez may decide to undergo part of his treatment in Brazil at São Paulo's Sirio-Libanes Hospital, which treated Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff for lymphatic cancer years ago. But Mr. Chavez has yet to say what type of cancer he's suffering from. He has only offered sparse details on his health since having two surgeries in Cuba in June, including a procedure to remove a cancerous, baseball-size tumor. The other operation, according to the Venezuelan government, was to treat a pelvic abscess.
Gulf News reports that Venezuela's medical association is offended that Chavez chose to have medical care outside the country. Some opponents say when Cuban leader, Fidel Castro, underwent abdominal surgery in 2006, Cuban doctors were reported to have botched the initial operation. But in communist Cuba, there is an automatic information blackout about Chavez's treatment, something which he may want.
Chavez was out of the public's eye during this last week while he was in Cuba. But the Associated Press reports that he kept up a steady stream of Twitter messages, which ranged from official government announcements to cheering for the national soccer team.
More about Hugo chavez, Back from Cuba, Cancer
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