December 9, 2012

Chavez faces new cancer battle, surgery in Cuba

The Associated Press

(Continued from page 2)

Molina and other medical experts said Chavez's next surgery likely won't be high-risk.

"I think if they are planning to do any surgery it is to improve his quality of life, meaning to remove a tumor that is located in a place that is either producing some pain or some difficulty for the patient," Molina said.

He agreed with other doctors queried by the AP that Chavez could have a sarcoma, which he said tend to spread to the lungs. Based on Chavez's treatment regimen, he said, it's highly unlikely he's suffering from colon or prostate cancer, though it could also be bladder cancer.

Molina said it is extremely difficult to say how long Chavez has to live. "You need to know more specifics about the case," he said.

Chavez said he wouldn't have run for re-election this year if tests at the time had shown signs of cancer. He also made his most specific comments yet about his movement carrying on without him if necessary.

"Fortunately, this revolution doesn't depend on one man," Chavez said. "Today we have a collective leadership."

Throughout his presidency, though, Chavez has been a one-man political phenomenon, and until the appointment of Maduro he hadn't spoke of any clear successor.

His announcement dramatically increased uncertainty in Venezuela about the future, and "Chavez is in the short term irreplaceable in terms of leadership and of national impact," said Luis Vicente Leon, a pollster who heads the Venezuelan firm Datanalisis.

Still, he said, Chavez's announcement could help his party's candidates rally support in upcoming state gubernatorial elections on Dec. 16. Leon also said that if Chavez's candidates have a strong showing, it could give his party an added boost to promote constitutional changes to allow Maduro to succeed Chavez without the need for a new election. Such a possibility has not been publicly raised by Chavez's political allies.

 

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