Hugo Chávez tells of cancer diagnosis

Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chávez, has finally returned to the public eye, admitting in a nationwide address that doctors had diagnosed him with cancer, following furious speculation about the true state of his health.

In his first live appearance since undergoing emergency pelvic surgery in Cuba on June 10, Chávez said doctors had removed “cancerous cells” from his body. “This [is] the new battle that life has placed before us,” he said.

Flanked by a Venezuelan flag and a portrait of Simon Bolivar, the South American liberator, Chávez said he had committed a “fundamental mistake” in not taking better care of his own health.

“I neglected my health and I was reluctant to have medical check-ups. It was a fundamental mistake for a revolutionary,” he said, directing his speech “to the Venezuelan people and the international public opinion”.

Chávez slipped off the radar at the start of June when he embarked on a tour of South America and subsequently underwent emergency pelvic surgery in Cuba.

In his Thursday night address, broadcast on national television, an unusually reserved looking Chávez who read rather than improvised his speech, said Cuban doctors had detected “a strange formation in the pelvic region” following the first round of surgery.

During a second operation they found “cancerous cells”, he said, without specifying which kind of cancer had been detected.

Extended absence
Normally a media animal, Chávez had all but disappeared since being admitted to hospital in Havana earlier this month, virtually abandoning his Twitter account and appearing only in the occasional photograph or video.

His extended absence has sent Venezuela’s rumour-mill into overdrive. Allies had continued to insist that the Venezuelan president would shortly return to Caracas, but rumours that Chávez was suffering from prostate cancer or had slipped into a coma spread like wildfire. In Brazil, gossip columnists suggested Chávez was also suffering from lung complaints after starting smoking again.

“I have also been aware of a certain degree of concern and uncertainty that has … [affected] the Venezuelan nation on top of the attempts at manipulation by some sectors of society that are well known to all. Those feelings are inevitable and are part of human nature,” he said.


But the Venezuelan leader gave no hint as to when he might return home, closing his speech with the words: “Hasta el retorno” or “Until my return.”

‘Sons and daughters of Bolivar’
“We have full confidence that he will be victorious in his battle, as in all his battles,” Elias Jaua, Venezuela’s vice-president, told state television immediately after Chávez’s speech. “We are the sons and daughters of Bolivar. There is no time for sadness; only for courage to face the recovery period. We need to be united. We call on you to unite.”

Venezuela’s usually outspoken president had been tipped for a triumphant homecoming on July 5, when his country celebrates 200 years of independence from Spain.

But on Wednesday authorities in Caracas announced he had cancelled a summit of Latin American leaders that would have coincided with the independence celebrations.

With a 2012 election on the horizon, analysts are divided on the impact Chávez’s absence could have on the presidential race. Most agree, however, that his sudden withdrawal from frontline politics has underlined a lack of leadership alternatives.

“The absence reveals even more clearly how dependent on the president the top leadership of the ruling party has become,” said Javier Corrales, a political scientist and Venezuela expert, from Amherst College in Massachusetts.

“The notion of a chavismo without Chávez … seems to be inconceivable for chavistas.” – guardian.co.uk

These are unprecedented times, and the role of media to tell and record the story of South Africa as it develops is more important than ever. But it comes at a cost. Advertisers are cancelling campaigns, and our live events have come to an abrupt halt. Our income has been slashed.

The Mail & Guardian is a proud news publisher with roots stretching back 35 years. We’ve survived thanks to the support of our readers, we will need you to help us get through this.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.

Advertising

Two dead in new ANC KwaZulu-Natal killings

A Mtubatuba councillor and a Hammarsdale ANC Youth League leader were shot yesterday near their homes

Inside Facebook’s big bet on Africa

New undersea cables will massively increase bandwidth to the continent

No back to school for teachers just yet

Last week the basic education minister was adamant that teachers will return to school on May 25, but some provinces say not all Covid-19 measures are in place to prevent its spread

Engineering slips out of gear at varsity

Walter Sisulu University wants to reprioritise R178-million that it stands to give back to treasury after failing to spend it
Advertising

Press Releases

Coexisting with Covid-19: Saving lives and the economy in India

A staggered exit from the lockdown accompanied by stepped-up testing to cover every district is necessary for India right now

What Africa can learn from Cuba in combating the Covid-19 pandemic

Africa should abandon the neoliberal path to be able to deal with Covid-19 and other health system challenges likely to emerge in future

Road to recovery for the tourism sector: The South African perspective

The best-case scenario is that South Africa's tourism sector’s recovery will only begin in earnest towards the end of this year

Covid-19: Eased lockdown and rule of law Webinar

If you are arrested and fined in lockdown, you do get a criminal record if you pay the admission of guilt fine

Covid-19 and Frontline Workers

Who is caring for the healthcare workers? 'Working together is how we are going to get through this. It’s not just a marathon, it’s a relay'.

PPS webinar Part 2: Small business, big risk

The risks that businesses face and how they can be dealt with are something all business owners should be well acquainted with

Call for applications for the position of GCRO executive director

The Gauteng City-Region Observatory is seeking to appoint a high-calibre researcher and manager to be the executive director and to lead it

DriveRisk stays safe with high-tech thermal camera solution

Itec Evolve installed the screening device within a few days to help the driver behaviour company become compliant with health and safety regulations