EYE INSIDE - LATIN AMERICA
Hugo Chávezs announcement late Thursday evening that he is being treated for cancer sent shock waves throughout Latin America, a region where the larger-than-life Venezuelan president has exerted an undeniable influence over the past decade.
The announcement broke the normally outspoken leaders uncharacteristic weeks-long silence. On June 10 Chávez underwent surgery in Havana, Cuba for a pelvic abscess. For more than two weeks afterwards he remained incommunicado, sparking rumors that his health problems were more serious than Venezuelan government officials were letting on.
Speaking from Cuba, Chávez confirmed those rumors in a recorded speech that was broadcast Thursday night a 9 p.m. Venezuelan time. The president admitted that during his pelvic surgery, doctors detected a cancerous tumor. They later performed a second operation to remove the growth, Chávez explained. He is continuing to receive cancer treatment as he recovers from both surgeries.
The news, not surprisingly, was splashed on front pages and websites from northern Mexico to southern Chile.
Speaking slowly, his face pale and showing evidence of weight loss, Chávez read his 14-minute speech, broadcast on radio and television to inform Venezuelans about his medical situation, Argentinas La Nación reported.
He said he was newly operated and that the tumor was completely removed, wrote the Chilean daily La Tercera. He said he is now receiving complementary treatment for his full recovery but that he continues to run his countrys government and is in contact with his team [in Caracas.]
Perus La Republica published a detailed timeline of Chavez medical woes, beginning May 9, when the Venezuelan president suspended a trip to Brazil, Ecuador and Cuba because of inflammation in his knee. On June 6, the newspaper noted, Chávez arrives in Brazil for his first work meeting with [President Dilma] Rousseff walking with notable difficulty and with the help of a cane.
In Colombia, El Tiempo reported that Venezuelan government agencies have begun preparing for what even now seems hard to imagine: a Venezuela without Hugo Chávez.
Venezuelas Últimas Noticias daily, meanwhile, quoted Armed Forces head Henry Rangel Silva as saying President Chávez will return soon. The general also said the Armed Forces will do what it takes to protect the Constitution.