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Latin America Reacts To Hugo Chávez Cancer Bombshell

The region reacts to news that the ever influential and controversial Venezuelan President has announced from Cuba that he is being treated for cancer.

Venezuela's Ultimas Noticias reports on the unfolding story of Hugo Chavez's health
Venezuela's Ultimas Noticias reports on the unfolding story of Hugo Chavez's health


Hugo Chávez's 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 leader's 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," Argentina's 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 country's government and is in contact with his team in Caracas."

Peru's 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."

Venezuela's 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.


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FOCUS: Israel-Palestine War

Settlers, Prisoners, Resistance: How Israeli Occupation Ties Gaza To The West Bank

The fate of the West Bank is inevitably linked to the conflict in Gaza; and indeed Israeli crackdowns and settler expansion and violence in the West Bank is a sign of an explicit strategy.

Settlers, Prisoners, Resistance: How Israeli Occupation Ties Gaza To The West Bank

Israeli soldiers take their positions during a military operation in the Balata refugee camp, West Bank.

Riham Al Maqdama


CAIRO — Since “Operation Al-Aqsa Flood” began on October 7, the question has been asked: What will happen in the West Bank?

A review of Israel’s positions and rhetoric since 1967 has always referred to the Gaza Strip as a “problem,” while the West Bank was the “opportunity,” so that former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s decision to withdraw Israeli settlements from Gaza in 2005 was even referred to as an attempt to invest state resources in Jewish settlement expansion in the West Bank.

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This separation between Gaza and the West Bank in the military and political doctrine of the occupation creates major challenges, repercussions of which have intensified over the last three years.

Settlement expansion in the West Bank and the continued restrictions of the occupation there constitute the “land” and Gaza is the “siege” of the challenge Palestinians face. The opposition to the West Bank expansion is inseparable from the resistance in Gaza, including those who are in Israeli prisons, and some who have turned to take up arms through new resistance groups.

“What happened in Gaza is never separated from the West Bank, but is related to it in cause and effect,” said Ahmed Azem, professor of international relations at Qatar University. “The name of the October 7 operation is the Al-Aqsa Flood, referring to what is happening in Jerusalem, which is part of the West Bank.”

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