Sunday, December 9th 2012 - 19:51 UTC

Chavez to Cuba for further cancer treatment prepares his succession

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was poised to return to Cuba on Sunday for more cancer treatment, having spoken for the first time of giving up power if his condition worsens or he dies.

”Choose Maduro (R) as president of the republic,” Chavez (L) said. “I am asking you this from all my heart.” (Photo Efe)

Chavez (58) who won another six-year term just two months ago, having claimed to have beaten the disease, dramatically announced on Saturday night that malignant cells had returned and that he needed surgery.

Treatment is “absolutely necessary,” the populist leader said in a bombshell statement on state television in which he admitted he may have to relinquish the presidency and that Vice President Nicolas Maduro is his chosen successor.

The designation of an heir apparent in the event that “something happened” to him underlined the seriousness of Chavez's condition, which he said was inflicting strong pain and required him to take tranquilizers.

In power since 1999, the political firebrand and outspoken foe of the United States, has made repeated trips to the Castro brothers’ Cuba for cancer treatment, the most recent of which came before his re-election on October 7.

Over the past year and a half, Chavez has missed practically every regional meeting he was to have attended, such as the Summit of the Americas in Colombia, last month's Ibero-American summit and the Mercosur summit in Brazil where Venezuela was performing as full member for the first time.

He returned from Havana on Friday after a 10-day stay in Cuba but his medical team stressed a sense of urgency about the looming operation, his fourth since mid 2011.

”The doctor recommended that I undergo surgery yesterday (Friday) at the latest, or this weekend,“ he noted. ”But I did not agree and came back home.“

In what appeared like a presentation of his final will, the once-omnipresent leader, who had not been seen in public for three weeks, urged Venezuelans to vote for Maduro in the next presidential poll should he become incapacitated.

”Choose Maduro as president of the republic,“ Chavez said. ”I am asking you this from all my heart.“

Maduro, who has been serving as Venezuela's foreign minister for the past six years, was appointed vice president in the wake of October's presidential poll. He has since held both portfolios.

The former bus driver who began his political career in the labour movement belongs to the more moderate wing of the Chavez entourage.

The radical wing is led by Diosdado Cabello, who, along with Chavez, took part in a failed 1992 military coup, and now presides over the National Assembly.

Under the Venezuelan constitution, if the new president is incapacitated before inauguration -- scheduled for January 10 -- new elections must be called in 30 days. The parliamentary speaker must then take charge until a new president is elected.

But if incapacitation or death occurs after the inauguration but in the first four years of a term, the vice president takes over and governs until an early election determines a new leader.

Exactly what type of cancer Chavez has remains a mystery since the long-time leader has handled his illness as a state secret.

Prior to Saturday's announcement, he had repeatedly claimed to have beaten an unspecified cancer in his pelvic region, diagnosed in 2011, and shrugged off his illness to see off a unified opposition and win power again.

Still, recurring bouts of the disease have dogged his presidency, requiring him to spend weeks at a time in Cuba. During his most recent visit, doctors ”again detected some malignant cells in the same area as before,“ Chavez said Saturday.

In Cuba last week, the official newspaper Granma reported that Chavez's treatment consisted of oxygenation.

The American Cancer Society says there is no evidence that this oxygen treatment -- in which a patient gets inside a pressurized chamber and breathes pure oxygen for an hour -- works against cancer. But the society also says it can serve as treatment for ailments stemming from radiation treatment.

Venezuelans reacted with shock and empathy to the news, and a rally in support was planned in downtown Caracas.

Bolivian President Evo Morales sent well wishes to his counterpart. ”This new battle for life will also be won,” he said.

Chavez appeared weak and subdued during the presidential campaign, but still managed to win another term that extends to 2019.

He was last seen in public on November 15, and two weeks later he went to Cuba for treatment. Unlike other trips to Cuba, this time Chavez did not make farewell remarks or hold a carefully choreographed photo opportunity.

22 comments Feed

Note: Comments do not reflect MercoPress’ opinions. They are the personal view of our users. We wish to keep this as open and unregulated as possible. However, rude or foul language, discriminative comments (based on ethnicity, religion, gender, nationality, sexual orientation or the sort), spamming or any other offensive or inappropriate behaviour will not be tolerated. Please report any inadequate posts to the editor. Comments must be in English. Thank you.

1 ElaineB (#) Dec 09th, 2012 - 07:57 pm Report abuse
I guess he has finally accepted the inevitable.
2 briton (#) Dec 09th, 2012 - 08:05 pm Report abuse
when he has gone he will no longer be a problem,

that will be the responsablity of the maggots worms and beetles,
and they can have him.
3 ElaineB (#) Dec 09th, 2012 - 08:10 pm Report abuse
It will be sad for his family. Venezuela will go into mourning and probably accept the bus driver for a while, then with such a strong character gone there will be dramatic change.
4 aussie sunshine (#) Dec 09th, 2012 - 08:11 pm Report abuse
becareful on those who take joy from an illness on another human being:
Maybe some of you in the near future could face the same problems that this human being is going through.
5 briton (#) Dec 09th, 2012 - 08:13 pm Report abuse
Let us hope the change is for good and their future is bright,

Rather than going down the same old road as hugo,
6 ElaineB (#) Dec 09th, 2012 - 08:18 pm Report abuse
@4 Who has mentioned joy at his illness apart from you?

It is interesting, everyone thought Raul Castro would be more hard-line and follow Fidel but he has made changes for the better in Cuba. Baby steps, but in the right direction for Cubans. Who knows?
7 briton (#) Dec 09th, 2012 - 08:25 pm Report abuse
nobody wants to die, and no doubt we would all want to live forever,
sadly we all go sometime,..
the world keeps changing, he may well think that if he can do better, greater things will come,
like you say, who knows the future ?
8 Captain Poppy (#) Dec 09th, 2012 - 08:33 pm Report abuse
my joy stems in knowing that as a leader, he will be no more. I can't say good bye fast enough.
9 Pirate Love (#) Dec 09th, 2012 - 09:06 pm Report abuse
Come on chubby, you are dragging this out now.....

Im taking bets my turkey will last longer over christmas than chubster!
10 Troy Tempest (#) Dec 09th, 2012 - 10:16 pm Report abuse
@4 Argie sunshine

“becareful on those who take joy from an illness on another human being:
Maybe some of you in the near future could face the same problems that this human being is going through.”

Disarmingly good advice.

Thank you, “Mr. Neutral” *rolls eyes*
11 Captain Poppy (#) Dec 09th, 2012 - 11:10 pm Report abuse
I think that chubby is living the...”what goes around comes around. I can't say that I wish him any peace in his eternal rest.
12 ChrisR (#) Dec 10th, 2012 - 10:25 am Report abuse
To everybody on here. Aussie Raincloud is referring to me over my recent post re BsAs Herald:

This in BsAs Herald: Dead Man Walking is going back to Cuba and has named a successor, his Vice-President, an ex bus driver and union official. Excellent choice for the most corrupt country in SA and that’s saying something.

These pillocks running the LatAm countries have no experience whatsoever except for Chile on what is required to provide security and financial success to their people.

Looks like my deadline for him to be dead (end of the year) may be slightly out. Still, I wish him a swift and painful departure. It is only a fraction of what he deserves.

A little music to help him on his way:

Don´t Let Me Be Misunderstood. The Animals

Don’t Cry For Me, Argentina. Elaine Paige Live (Madonna cannot sing)

Great Balls On Fire. ;o) Jerry Lee Lewis

I’ll Be Back! The Beatles

Apocalypse Now - Helicopter Attack

THE END The Doors

Stairway To Heaven: Led Zepellin

And my repost to his previous personal diatribe to me:

Ooooohhhhheerr! I am frightened now! Prat. I did not wish the illness on him, he has it already. I just want him dead in the most painful way imaginable.

As an atheist there is no juju man or pin sticking witch: whatever your fate is you can always do something about it until you die. I have news for you, dying is part and parcel of being alive on this planet.

I have had my scares, and because of vigilance and knowledge have managed to deal with them, so far.

But every day I wake up I think, ANOTHER DAY! And then I get on with it.

Now fcuk off and play with the fairies or little boys, or is it girls you prefer you argie moron?
13 Captain Poppy (#) Dec 10th, 2012 - 12:56 pm Report abuse
Chris the man is all but dead. I do not believe he will make inauguration on Jan 10. Now......for the bus driver to take over and ruin the economy.
14 aussie sunshine (#) Dec 10th, 2012 - 01:03 pm
Comment removed by the editor.
15 Captain Poppy (#) Dec 10th, 2012 - 03:04 pm Report abuse
#14 if you don't know the Beatles you should at least google them....they are two different songs you WANKER here you are you TWITT!
16 ChrisR (#) Dec 10th, 2012 - 03:16 pm Report abuse
15 Captain Poppy

You beat me to it, thanks.

BTW aussie shitcloud (suits you MUCH better, don't you think?) it's the TITLE.

But I will forgive you as you are an uneducated argie (other that the lies in school about the Malvinas - wherever they were).

I know it muct be hell coming on here and getting the piss taken out of you. But you do deserve it.

Peace! And all that crap you Catholics are stuck with.
17 Ayayay (#) Dec 10th, 2012 - 05:05 pm Report abuse
What an honest guy to announce this after elections, time to let the bus driver do the incredibly complex job of adminiatration.
18 Captain Poppy (#) Dec 10th, 2012 - 06:11 pm Report abuse
You're being a standup comedian right Ayayay? Maybe the bus driver can drive venezuela off the cliff faster than “dead man no longer walking”
19 Britworker (#) Dec 10th, 2012 - 06:49 pm Report abuse
Announcing his succession, what an odd choice of words. Is there a heriditory Chaves somewhere like on North Korea?
20 briton (#) Dec 10th, 2012 - 08:11 pm Report abuse
aussie kango insults like all argies,
[no more toys left in the pram] so spits out insults,
just ignore him

he should be deleted...
21 ChrisR (#) Dec 10th, 2012 - 09:46 pm Report abuse
20 briton

Thanks, I think he has been and it was not me.
22 briton (#) Dec 11th, 2012 - 11:00 am Report abuse

Commenting for this story is now closed.
If you have a Facebook account, become a fan and comment on our Facebook Page!


Get Email News Reports!

Get our news right on your inbox.
Subscribe Now!