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Hugo Chavez Cancer: Venezuela President Returns Home After Radiation Treatment

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In this photo released by Miraflores Press Office, Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez attends a meeting with his cabinet ministers in Havana , Cuba, Tuesday, March 27, 2012. (AP Photo/Miraflores Press Office)
In this photo released by Miraflores Press Office, Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez attends a meeting with his cabinet ministers in Havana , Cuba, Tuesday, March 27, 2012. (AP Photo/Miraflores Press Office)

CARACAS, Venezuela — A new poll finds that more than 44 percent of respondents in Venezuela say they would vote for President Hugo Chavez, giving him a 13-point lead ahead of his opposition rival.

The survey released Thursday by Caracas polling firm Datanalisis found that about 25 percent of those questioned either didn't know which candidate they would choose in the Oct. 7 election or didn't answer.

"Those undecided ones are going to indicate the trend in the future," said Luis Vicente Leon, the polling firm's president.

The survey found that 44.7 percent said they would vote for Chavez, while 31.4 percent said they would vote for the challenger, Miranda state Gov. Henrique Capriles.

The survey questioned about 1,300 people in Venezuela between Feb. 29 and March 7, and had a margin of error of 2.7 percentage points, Leon said.

About 62 percent of respondents said they viewed Chavez's performance favorably, compared to 50.2 percent who had a favorable view about Capriles' performance as governor.

Leon said the monthly poll is paid for by about 300 clients who include both private businesses and state companies, as well as individuals. He said some of the clients include political leaders but he didn't identify them.

Chavez appeared on state television early Thursday after returning home from a five-day round of radiation therapy in Cuba, where he has been undergoing cancer treatment.

"Thanks to God, I've withstood the treatment very well," Chavez said. "Let's hope that's the case next time."

He said the radiation treatments have been administered for five days in a row and that he will now stay in Venezuela until Saturday, when he plans to return to Havana for the next round.

Chavez has said the radiation treatments are intended to prevent any new cancer threat after a surgery last month that removed a second tumor from his pelvic region. He had another tumor removed from the same location in an earlier operation in June.

The 57-year-old leftist president, who has been in office since 1999, has vowed to overcome cancer and win another six-year term in the October vote.

Capriles, 39, won a February primary vote to become the opposition's only candidate. Capriles says he favors social programs for the poor but also criticizes Chavez's expropriations of private business and says if elected he would seek to encourage private investment to create jobs.

Capriles has also focused some of his recent criticism on rampant violent crime, which Venezuelans view as the country's top problem, recent polls show.

"Every year, the violence has gone up," Capriles told reporters on Thursday. "In any country in the world, the first one who's responsible is the head of state."

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