Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is in “good physical condition” after surgeons in Cuba removed a lesion from his pelvis, Reuters reported. The socialist leader, 57, has been quietly treating cancer, although what type has not been disclosed.
"There were no complications relating to his local organs,” Vice President Elias Jaua told Venezuela's parliament in Caracas. He said tests would be carried out on the extracted tissue in the coming hours to determine whether the lesion had been malignant.
As the vice president spoke, supporters cheered and cried out, "Onward, comandante!" the Associated Press reported.
Venezuelans are talking about little else than Chavez's health. Some still suspect he may have even invented the cancer to draw sympathy and create the image of a conquering return to fitness, while others speculate he could die within months.
Chavez has stayed mostly mum about his illness although he announced last week that doctors in Cuba had found a new growth about one inch in diameter in the same area where a baseball-size cancerous tumor was removed last summer.
He traveled to Cuba for treatment because the communist-led Caribbean island's former president, Fidel Castro, is a close friend and his main political mentor.
According to Chavez, it was Castro who broke the news to him by his hospital bed that he had cancer last June. Chavez has since returned for chemotherapy sessions and medical tests in Cuba, where he is guaranteed privacy and tight security.
The latest health setback has fueled fresh doubts about Chavez's health, his ability to campaign for re-election in October and his fitness to govern for another six-year term if he wins.
Chavez faces opposition candidate Henrique Capriles, a 39-year-old state governor who hopes to woo former Chavez voters with his promise of a Brazilian-style "modern left" government.
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.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this story.
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