Chavez Heads to Cuba: 'It's Time to Live'

Will undergo chemotherapy in Havana
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 17, 2011 6:01 AM CDT
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez waves as his daughter Rosa Virginia stands next to him before his departure from Simon Bolivar international airport, Caracas, Venezuela, Saturday July 16, 2011.   (Ariana Cubillos)
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(Newser) – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has returned to Cuba to begin chemotherapy nearly a month after surgery to remove a tumor, and he is expressing optimism the treatment will help him survive his cancer. Chavez said he would start the treatment in Havana today in an attempt to ensure cancer cells do not reappear following last month's operation. "We're going to give it everything we've got," Chavez said in a televised speech shortly before he left Caracas yesterday. He said there is always a risk cancer cells might show up again, "and therefore there's a need to attack hard through chemotherapy."

Chavez was accompanied by one of his daughters, Rosa, who held his hand as they boarded the presidential jet. The 56-year-old leftist leader delegated some of his duties to Vice President Elias Jaua and Planning and Finance Minister Jorge Giordani, but refused opposition demands that he temporarily cede all his powers to Jaua while undergoing chemotherapy. Chavez said that if his physical capacities were diminished in the future, "I would be the first in doing what the constitution says" in delegating his position to the vice president. Opposition politicians said they believed Chavez's request constituted a "temporary absence" and that the president owed the country a more detailed explanation of how serious his illness is.

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