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Chavez admits cancer relapse, designates heir apparent

CARACAS: Leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez admitted a relapse of his cancer late Saturday and designated vice president Nicolas Maduro as his heir apparent in case “something happened” to him.

Speaking on national television, an emotional Chavez said a return of cancer cells was detected during his most recent visit to Cuba for medical examination, and he will return to the communist-ruled island as early as Sunday for another round of surgery.

“During this thorough examination, they again detected some malignant cells in the same area as before,” Chavez said.

He did not offer details, but his cancer was first detected in the pelvic area. Neither the Venezuelan leader, nor his Cuban doctors have ever disclosed what kind of cancer that was.

He admitted he was suffering “somewhat strong” pain and was taking tranquilizers as part of preparation for his upcoming surgery.

Chavez acknowledged that his Cuban medical team had conveyed to him a sense of urgency about the operation, which he said was now “absolutely necessary.”

“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.”

Chavez returned from Havana on Friday after a 10-day stay in Cuba. He had not been seen in public for three weeks.

The Venezuelan leader also said that in the event “something happened” and he were incapacitated, vice president Nicolas Maduro would step in and assume control of the government for the rest of the 2013-2019 term, as required by the constitution.

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