When Hugo Chavez made his first mysterious trip to Cuba for cancer surgery last year, many predicted the Venezuelan president's health would give out before last October's elections. The dictator seemed to have made a surprising recovery and won reelection, but it seems his health problems are far from over. Chavez is once again in Cuba for more cancer surgery.
During his initial trip Chavez seemed to have gone missing, until it came to light later that he had he gone to Havana to remove a tumor. This trip isn't shrouded in such mystery. State media reported that Chavez arrived in Havana early this morning to undergo his fourth surgery in less than two years.
Chavez then announced on Saturday that more cancerous cells had been discovered.
Chavez even nominated a successor. He told supporters that if his health failed and a new election is called, they should support Nicolas Maduro. If a Venezuelan president leaves officer during the first four years of a six year term, the Venezuelan constitutions calls for a new election to be called.
"He is a complete revolutionary, a man of great experience despite his youth, with great dedication and capacity for work," Chavez said of Maduro.
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The announcement has many speculating that Chavez may not be long for this world. From The Washington Post:
Moises Naim, a former Venezuelan government official who is an analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, called the announcement "basically a farewell speech."
"He said goodbye to power," Naim said. "It's a statement full of resignation and appeals to God. There is no plan. The only talk of the future is that there will be elections, and he asks for people to vote for Maduro."
Chavez has kept the exact details of his health crises under wraps. He's never disclosed what kind of cancer he has, and has twice, apparently prematurely, publicly declared himself cured.