Hugo Chavez's Health: Venezuelan President Denies Setback
CARACAS, Venezuela -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Thursday denied rumors of a setback in his health, saying he is at work and expects to finish with cancer treatments soon.
Chavez called state television and urged Venezuelans to "pay no attention to rumors." He appeared to be referring to a report in El Nuevo Herald of Miami that he had been hospitalized and that his condition might be deteriorating.
"I'm fine," Chavez said. "I'm here in my place of work and working."
Chavez said he is taking steroids and other medicines as he recovers from chemotherapy treatments for cancer. He said he is working at "half throttle" while undergoing physical and medical therapy.
He finished a fourth round of chemotherapy in Cuba last week and says he is done with those treatments.
"I'm going to completely get out of this soon," Chavez said.
Chavez underwent surgery in Cuba in June to remove a tumor from his pelvic region.
He has not specified where the tumor was located. He has said previously that tests have shown no signs of a recurrence.
The president said his body has coped well with chemotherapy and assured Venezuelans he would keep them informed.
"I would be the first ... to communicate any difficulty in the process. None beyond the normal has come up," Chavez said.
Critics of Chavez have accused him of giving slow, incomplete reports on his illness that have fed rumors.
Chavez acknowledged that he had been treated for cancer on June 30. He said later the surgery to remove the tumor was performed on June 20.
While Chavez has claimed that all is well after completing rounds of chemotherapy, repeated reports have painted a different picture of the Venezuelan president's health. Fox News Latino reports that Chavez is in serious condition at Caracas' Military Hospital. Sources point to possible kidney failure, and former U.S. ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS) Roger Noriega reportedly told El Nuevo Herald that Chavez is "not improving like his doctors had hoped."
El Nuevo Herald reports that Chavez has been taken to the emergency room. "When he arrived, he was extremely sick and as a result they had to take him to the emergency room," a source said in Spanish.
Despite swirling rumors about his health, the Venezuelan president has repeatedly dismissed claims about the severity of his illness, saying he plans to run for a fourth term as president in the 2012 elections. President Chavez previously told the Associated Press that Venezuela's political opposition is using his poor health "to generate uncertainty in the country and take advantage of my illness from the political point of view."
According to El Nuevo Herald, former ambassador Noriega said in Spanish, "We must begin to think of -- and should begin to prepare ourselves for -- a world without Hugo Chavez."