Venezuela’s Chavez touches down in Cuba for cancer treatment
(CNN) — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has arrived in Cuba, where he is expected to continue cancer treatment.
The president was met by his Cuban counterpart, Raul Castro, at the airport in Havana on Saturday night, according to Cuban state media. The Cubadebate website published a photo of the two men shaking hands amid a group of photographers.
Chavez returned to the Caribbean nation less than a month after he left, following treatment for an undisclosed type of cancer.
It is not clear how long he plans to stay in Cuba, where he has said he will begin chemotherapy.
“It’s not time to die. It’s time to live,” the president said before boarding his plane in Venezuela.
Cuba mulls future without ally Chavez
Earlier Saturday, the ailing leader said that doctors, in the aftermath of surgery, have not found malignant cells in any other part of his body. He underwent surgery to remove a cancerous tumor last month.
Still, he said there is always the risk that cancer cells could reappear and so it is necessary that doctors take an aggressive approach.
Hours before Chavez left Venezuela, the president delegated some of his powers to his vice president and finance minister — marking the first time in his more than 12 years in office that he ceded authority.
The president signed a decree allowing Vice President Elias Jaua and Finance Minister Jorge Giordani to make “some decisions that up to now depended on me.” He resisted calls from the opposition to hand over the presidency to Jaua during his time abroad.
“Within the dynamic of this deep reflection, and this scenario that we are in, it will be very useful to make changes,” Chavez said as he announced the delegations of power.
Still, Chavez’s critics and some analysts have questioned his ability to carry out his duties, particularly given that he is up for re-election next year. They have also complained about the lack of information available on his health. Chavez’s absence from Venezuela will likely heighten those concerns.
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