By Daniel Wallis and Andrew Cawthorne
CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela’s flamboyant socialist leader Hugo Chavez said on Thursday he had undergone an operation to remove a cancerous tumor, posing a serious challenge to his near-total dominance of national politics.
The announcement, which confirmed rumors swirling for nearly three weeks, convulsed the South American OPEC nation ahead of what was already looking like a tight race for a presidential election next year.
Speaking from Havana where he underwent surgery June 10, a pale and emotional Chavez gave no indication when he would return to Venezuela. Nor did he name a temporary substitute to lead the country of 29 million people.
“They confirmed the existence of a tumorous abscess, with the presence of cancerous cells, which needed another operation to extract the tumor completely,” he said in his first address to the nation since his surgery.
Chavez, 56, said he was receiving “complementary treatments to combat different types of cells that were found” — possibly implying chemotherapy.Twitter