CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said on Friday he plans to return to Cuba for more cancer treatment, in a move that will raise further concerns about his illness that has upended the OPEC nation’s politics.
The announcement came less than two weeks after the 56-year-old made a triumphant return home from the Communist-led island, where he had undergone cancer surgery, amid opposition criticism that his absence was a danger to the country of 29 million people.
Speaking from the steps of the presidential palace, Chavez read a brief letter requesting that Congress authorize him to leave for Cuba on Saturday to continue treatment including chemotherapy. He did not say how long he would be gone.
“The second phase will start in the coming days with the application of chemotherapy that has been scientifically planned down to the last detail, and I am sure the second phase will contribute to the recovery of health,” he said.
The former soldier’s allies say he is making a quick recovery, but his illness has raised doubts about his long-term health and his fitness to run for re-election next year.
Reporting by Frank Jack Daniel, Brian Ellsworth and Deisy Buitrago; editing by Daniel Wallis and Mohammad Zargham