To dispel rumors about his health, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez made an unexpected reappearance in Caracas after a month of absence spent in Havana, Cuba, where he had undergone surgery to treat cancer. Chavez arrived at the airport in Venezuela at two in the morning and was welcomed by his ministers of Defense and of Foreign Affairs. "I am enthusiastic, very happy, this is the beginning of my come back," declared Chavez during a short interview on the Venezuelan TV; "I am here, at home. Good morning, my beloved Venezuela."
Chavez had left Venezuela on June 5 on an official trip to Brazil, Ecuador and Cuba, where he had to be urgently operated for a "pelvic abscess" on June 10th. Biopsy later showed that Chavez suffered from cancer.
On July 4 back in Caracas , following his return from Cuba, Chavez addressed supporters, saying that he will win this "battle for life." He thanked "God, Bolivar and the people" for being back home; he did not forget to thank Fidel Castro and the medical team that treated him. Although his return and his reappearance in Caracas calmed the speculations about his health, many political analysts said that he could have stayed in Cuba to recover for several months, putting at risk his return to office. Despite his reappearance, however, rumors about possible scenarios for the "after Chavez" are circulating in Caracas.
The Venezuelan journalist Rafael Poleo, who lives in South Florida, said that Chavez actually had to rush back to Caracas in order to stop the political infighting. Within Chavez's camp, several groups had already emerged inside Chavez's Party, indicating a power struggling for succession: from one side, the communist wing led by the President's elder brother Adan Chavez, and from the other side, the pragmatic former vice president and current legislator, Diosdado Cabello. Members of the media have also mentioned among the political figures fighting for succession: Rafael Ramirez, the head of the state-run oil company, Petroleros de Venezuela; Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro, and Defense Minister Carlos Mata Figueroa. According to newspapers, the Venezuelan vice-president Elías Jaua, Chávez's ally since the 1990s, would instead be the more probable successor to the Venezuelan caudillo. However, none of them has the charisma and the appeal of Chavez. Analysts states that the Venezuela's "21st Century Socialism" cannot continue without him. As the Miami Herald puts it: "There's no chavismo without Chavez."
For the opposition camp, Chavez's sickness is seen as an opportunity to raise its head, but it is also a potential pitfall. As noticed in the Washington Post, Venezuela's loosely knit coalition of opposition factions insists to stand behind a single candidate in next year's presidential election, yet the only glue that has held them together for years has been its animosity toward Chavez. If cancer were to force Chavez from the race, long-standing divisions could widen, hurting the opposition's chances for victory.
From the Press:
- President Hugo Chávez vows to win another battle
- President Chavez's address to the Nation
- The truth about Chavez's disease
July 4, 2011
President Hugo Chávez vows to win another battle
At 5:30 pm on Monday, wearing military fatigues and a red beret and waving the national flag, President Hugo Chavez appeared with his daughters on the balcony of the Miraflores presidential palace to greet thousands of followers […].
He told the Venezuelan people that he was starting a new battle for his life, referring to the health condition that kept him for more than three weeks in Cuba, where he was subject to medical examinations and underwent two surgeries. "Together we will win this new battle as well!" he said in a mandatory radio and television broadcast.
"Let nobody believe that this [Chavez's return to Venezuela] means that we won the battle. We have begun to overcome this evil that was incubated in my body [...] A few days ago [Ecuadoran] President Rafael Correa told me by phone: Commander this is another battle and I am sure that as a son of [Simón] Bolívar, the man of the difficulties, you will overcome this too [...] We will win this battle for the revolution and for life," he said.
He thanked Cuban people and Cuban leader Fidel Castro for all the attention received during his recovery process following a surgery to remove a tumor with cancer cells. "Long live the people; long live Cuba; long live Fidel Castro [...] My personal thanks for so much love, so much support. Love is the greatest cure for any disease. Thanks for your love!" said Chavez. Chavez said that he was in intensive care after the second surgery that he underwent in Cuba to remove a tumor with cancer cells. […] El Universal (Venezuela)
July 1, 2011
President Chavez's address to the Nation
Time and its pace; time and its mandates; time and its designs, as noted in Ecclesiastes, makes me read this communiqué over to the Venezuelan nation and international public opinion, for they are waiting to learn about my health progress as several weeks ago it started showing deterioration.
After our superb tour of Brazil and Ecuador, between the fifth and seventh days of last June, we arrived in the always supportive Cuba to complete the tour with the wrap-up and signing of new cooperation agreements. I must admit that, as for my health, I just planned to make myself check my left knee, almost recovered from an injury beginning May.
Throughout my life, I have been making one of those mistakes that could perfectly fit in a category that some philosopher called fundamental errors =- neglecting my health and being reluctant to get check-ups and medical treatments. What a fundamental error indeed! Particularly in a revolutionary with some humble responsibilities such as the ones entrusted to me by the revolution more than 30 years ago.
Notwithstanding, in Havana, on Wednesday evening, June 8, here we were again with Fidel, with such a giant who has gone beyond all times and places. Surely, it was not difficult for Fidel to note some discomfort, in addition to my left knee that I had been trying to conceal for several weeks. He queried me almost like a doctor; I made my confession almost like a patient. On that same night, the whole medical breakthrough achieved by the Cuban revolution for the sake of its people and for most of the world was made available to us and a set of diagnostic tests started.
Hence, a foreign mass in the pelvic area was found, leading to an emergency surgery in the face of the impending risk of widespread infection. That was on Saturday, June 11, very early in the morning, some hours before the address read over to the country and the world, giving rise to many expressions of solidarity, which do not stop moving me every single moment.
After that surgery, which initially succeeded in draining the abscess, an intensive antibiotic treatment started with a positive assessment -- I mean, positive progression -- which brought along notable improvement. Nevertheless, despite the overall favorable progress, throughout the process of drainages and cures, some suspected additional cell masses thus far undetected would arise.
Therefore, another set of special cytochemical, cytological, microbiological and anatomical pathology studies was conducted and confirmed the existence of an abscessed tumor with cancerous cells. This made a second surgery necessary which allowed fully removing the tumor. It was a major surgery without complications. After that, I continued evolving satisfactorily, whereas I receive supplementary treatments to fight the various cells found and thus keep on the way to my full recovery. […]
I am immensely grateful for the numerous and enthusiastic expressions of solidarity received from the Venezuelan people and other fellow peoples, as well as from Heads of State and Government of numerous countries around the world, convinced that all that love, all that solidarity, are the loftiest energy which drives and will drive my willingness to vanquish in this new battle that life has put in front of me. And I am especially grateful to the Cuban people, the Cuban nation, Fidel, Raul, all that medical legion who has been in the front of this battle in a really sublime way. […]
I tell you from the great homeland, from my heart, from my whole soul, from my supreme hope which is the hope of the people, now and forever. We will live and win. […] El Universal (Venezuela)
June 30, 2011
The truth about Chavez's disease
[Chavez] gave up heavy smoking some months ago, yet he still is a heavy coffee drinker, in addition to his eating disorder derived from Sabaneta, his place of origin. His schedule, perhaps inspired by his Cuban mentor, is the other way around. Add to this his existential anguish, enhanced after the events of 2002 [failed coup against Chavez]. Also, as suggested by his Cuban security agents, he very frequently moves his place of residence and a place to spend the night. His movements from Miraflores presidential palace, to the presidential official residence La Casona or military base Fuerte Tiuna are business as usual for the President Commander, who lacks a stable family life, somewhat harming his health. His continued flu has been a subject matter in the Bolivarian republic.
Surgeons consulted by him always refer to somatization because of so many problems faced as the single leader of the revolution and, therefore, the only individual liable for all the bad and good things of a revolutionary process, which increasingly shows, rather than successes, failures; rather than solutions, problems; rather than strides, hurdles, and rather than unity, division. I have listed all these factors for a better understanding of what could eventually happen to Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias, an ordinary person, whose physically and mentally overburden body has started to charge his disregard. "I am the only leader;" "Everything is attributable to me, because I am the only one in command;" "Without Chavez, there is no revolution," "I am the ultimate responsible;" "Do the right thing; otherwise people will blame it to me," and so on. Such phrases have been repeated ad nauseam in more than 2,200 obligatory simultaneous broadcasts and more than 4,000 hours of speeches since 1999. He is the same one who has been quiet for some weeks.
Ending February or beginning March, the Commander had urinary problems. Right away he contacted a prominent urologist at the Caracas Clinical Hospital. The doctor saw him at the so-called Little Hospital at Fuerte Tiuna. There, he was first alerted against his prostate status. He was recommended treatment and permanent check of his antigen or PSA. Later on, by May, the president developed an "anal tissue" which was removed at the very military Little Hospital. Treating doctors advised him to look after himself and take it easy for a while. He ignored the professional advice and fully engaged in obligatory simultaneous broadcasts, Mission Housing and blackouts, desperate by his aides' incompetence, multiple demonstrations nationwide and some other unsolved problems in 12 years of the so-called process. Another ailing, this time the knee, emerged shortly after. Forced by a bone doctor […] he had to go on sick leave.
The visit of ex Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, who told him that President Dilma Rouseff would finally meet with him after having deferred the rendezvous four times, made him travel to Brasilia; proceed to Ecuador, where bilateral meetings had been also adjourned quite a few times, and end in Cuba, where the pain and discomfort of his obese body, together with dizziness when talking with Fidel, caused Cuban doctors to check him, and led to the first surgery in Cuba. Hence, the first public confession was made about "the abscess" amidst the usual red-very red informational gap. Luckily for the usually lucky Venezuelan caudillo, the Spanish doctor who operated his mentor Fidel was in Havana for the six-month check of the Cuban dictator.
The alarm was raised right away in the presidential family. […] A tomography revealed a major damage in his prostate, and it was found after the abscess removal, that his prostate should be removed as well. At a distance, the Caracas-born urologist of Jewish origin led on a video the prostate surgery, aided by a robot, and practiced by the Spanish doctor, assisted by two Cuban colleagues. Another Venezuelan doctor, an immunologist at the Baptist Hospital of Miami and the Tufts Medical Center of Boston was taken to Havana for the trans-operation biopsy made in one of these US sites. There, cancer was found; the therapy should begin at once, including radiation and hormonal blocking. El Universal (Venezuela)