Chavez cancels trip to Argentina and Brazil

AP News
Posted: Dec 09, 2011 7:19 PM
Chavez cancels trip to Argentina and Brazil

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Friday canceled a trip to Argentina and Brazil, citing his government's efforts to help flood victims.

Chavez announced the decision in a phone call on state television.

"Unfortunately I had to cancel my trip to Buenos Aires," Chavez said, adding that Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro would take his place at Saturday's inauguration of Argentine President Cristina Fernandez.

"The rains hit us hard," said Chavez, who also chatted by phone with evacuees at a disaster shelter.

Interior and Justice Minister Tareck El Aissami said floods and mudslides this week have caused at least eight deaths and that thousands of families have left their homes to take refuge in government shelters.

Chavez confirmed he was canceling the trip hours after an organization headed by former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said it had been informed that Chavez was no longer going. Chavez had planned to visit Silva in Brazil after attending Fernandez's inauguration.

As for his health, Chavez said "I'm very well."

"I'm very sweaty. I've been jogging. ... I jogged 40 minutes today," he said.

The 57-year-old president had a cancerous tumor removed from his pelvic region in June and underwent four rounds of chemotherapy. He has said that he is now cancer-free.