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Venezuela's Chavez has surgery in Cuba; no word on cancer spread

February 28, 2012 |  4:11 pm

Poster of Hugo Chavez in Caracas, Venezuela

REPORTING FROM CARACAS, VENEZUELA, AND LOS ANGELES -- A statement issued by the Venezuelan government Tuesday said President Hugo Chavez had undergone surgery in Cuba with "a satisfactory result," but it left several questions unanswered, including whether his cancer had spread.

The statement said Chavez would need several days to recover and that results of tests from the surgery would be made public. It did not specify when.  

Chavez announced this month that tests had shown evidence of a lesion close to where a tumor was removed by Cuban doctors in June. He has never given the precise location nor the type of original tumor.

Weeks earlier, he had declared himself free of cancer.

The surgery comes as the Venezuelan presidential campaign is kicking into high gear. Opposition parties have united behind Henrique Capriles, the 39-year-old governor of Miranda state, who this month defeated four other candidates for the right to face Chavez in the October general election.

Chavez said in a nationwide address before departing for his latest surgery that a recurrence of cancer, if found, and subsequent rounds of therapy would probably force him to reduce his campaigning.

Chavez hasn't mentioned the possibility of his cancer having progressed to the point that he may have to withdraw from the presidential race. Who would replace him as his party's candidate is the subject of intense speculation in Venezuela.


Chavez says he needs more surgery

Opposition unites around candidate to oppose Chavez

Challenging Venezuela's Chavez

-- Mery Mogollon in Caracas and Chris Kraul in Los Angeles

Photo: A man holds a poster of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez as he reads a paper in Bolivar Square in Caracas on Tuesday. Credit: Ariana Cubillos/Associated Press