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Venezuela's Chavez 'in good condition' after surgery

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-02-28

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez underwent a successful operation in Cuba to remove a tumor from his pelvis, it was announced on Tuesday. Doubts persist however as to whether Chavez will be in good enough health to run for re-election in October.

REUTERS - Surgeons “completely” removed a lesion from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s pelvis and the socialist leader is in good physical condition after the operation in Cuba, Venezuela’s vice president said on Tuesday.

“President Chavez is in good physical condition ... The diagnosed pelvic lesion was extracted completely along with the surrounding tissue. There were no complications relating to his local organs,” Vice President Elias Jaua told parliament.

“The immediate post-operative period was clinically stable, without systemic complications. He is recovering correctly,” he said, prompting cheers and chants of “Chavez will not leave!” from the president’s supporters in the National Assembly.

The 57-year-old leader returned to Havana last week for more surgery despite repeatedly saying he was cured after two procedures last year. That fuelled doubts about his ability to campaign for re-election in October, or to govern if he won.

One medical source close to the team that had been treating the president in Venezuela said the surgery at Havana’s Cimeq Hospital on Monday night had lasted 90 minutes.

Before he left on Friday, Chavez said he would need surgery on a probably malignant lesion found in his pelvis where a large cancerous tumor was removed in June. He has also said he might need radiation treatment following the latest operation, raising the prospect of another lengthy convalescence.

Jaua did not mention any possible follow-up treatment, and did not say when Chavez would return home.

Chavez’s health situation could hobble his re-election campaign, when he normally would want to crisscross the South American country during the run-up to an Oct. 7 vote that will pit him against opposition candidate Henrique Capriles, a 39-year-old state governor.

Before the announcement that he would need more surgery, opinion polls showed Venezuelans broadly split - a third pro-Chavez, a third pro-opposition and a third undecided.

But the polls indicate Chavez might have a slight edge in voter enthusiasm - attributed to his popularity among the poor and an increase in welfare spending for the most needy.

While the president may get a « sympathy bump » in the polls in the weeks ahead, voter perceptions of weakness in Chavez - particularly in contrast with Capriles’ youthful image - could offset that.

Chavez’s latest health problems have pushed the OPEC nation’s widely traded bonds higher on investor hopes for a more market-friendly government in the future.

Chavez has avoided grooming a successor and has dominated the political stage himself since his first election win in 1998, so rumors abound as to who from his inner circle could take over if he were to be incapacitated.

None of his closest supporters share his man-of-the-people charisma, or the political and rhetorical talents that have forged his close connection with Venezuela’s poor majority.

Date created : 2012-02-28

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