Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez revealed that he is battling cancer and recently had a tumor removed in Cuba, making his political future uncertain.
The politician appeared on television Thursday evening looking quite thin as he read a prepared speech with a serious and at times sad expression. He said he is resolved to "be victorious in this new battle that life has placed before us."
Chávez, 56, said he had two operations in Cuba, including one that removed a tumor in which there were "cancerous cells." He added that the surgery was performed after an initial operation nearly three weeks ago to remove a pelvic abscess.
Expressing confidence that he will continue to get better, Chávez said: "I invite you all to continue climbing new summits together." Chávez didn't say how much longer he expects to remain in Cuba recovering, and there was no information on when or where his message was recorded.
His appearance came after days of anxious speculation among Venezuelans about Chávez's health. State television on Tuesday had shown photos and video of Chávez chatting animatedly with Fidel Castro, but officials had been vague about the reasons for Chávez's continued seclusion in Cuba.
Citing Chávez's health, the government announced Wednesday that it was canceling a two-day summit of Latin American leaders that Chávez would have hosted next week on the 200th anniversary of Venezuela's declaration of independence from Spain.
There was no immediate reaction from the main opposition coalition, which earlier had demanded that the government provide details about Chávez's condition.
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