Venezuela's Chavez: Health exams 'absolutely fine'

AP News
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Posted: Jun 09, 2012 10:03 PM
Venezuela's Chavez: Health exams 'absolutely fine'

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Saturday that he has undergone tests following his cancer treatment and everything came out well.

Chavez said the exams included imaging tests, which are used to check for the reappearance of tumors.

"Everything came out absolutely fine," Chavez told reporters at the presidential palace. "I feel very well."

Chavez appeared on the palace steps after a meeting with a Russian delegation. He saw off the visiting officials and then appeared energetic as he stepped close to reporters and animatedly responded to questions about his health, oil prices and his plans ahead of the country's October election.

"We're going to win this battle on Oct. 7," Chavez said. Motioning to the presidential palace, he said, "the bourgeoisie will never again return to this building."

The leftist president has typically sought to dismiss his rival, opposition leader Henrique Capriles, by accusing him of representing the interests of the wealthy. Capriles, who stepped down from his post as a state governor this week to focus on the campaign, plans to register his candidacy Sunday after leading a march of supporters through the city to the elections office.

Chavez is scheduled to sign up as a candidate Monday. He said he had been due for a follow-up medical exam in mid-June but pushed it ahead several days in order to have the tests done before formalizing his candidacy.

The president returned home from Cuba on May 11 after what he said was a difficult round of radiation therapy, and since then has limited his public appearances while saying little about his illness.

In the past year, Chavez has undergone two surgeries that removed tumors from his pelvic region, most recently in February. During Chavez's yearlong cancer struggle, he has not disclosed some details about his illness, including the type of cancer or the precise location of the tumors.

"I have faith in God... and in this will to live that I have to keep battling for this country," Chavez said. He said he's been laying out a government plan for what he hopes will be his next six-year term.

The presidential race so far has been dominated by speculation about Chavez's health and whether he will be well enough to campaign. While talking with reporters, Chavez said he hopes to live many years more.

Pausing from the questions, he flipped through a pair of red folders with documents needing his signature. He said they were from various parties that support his candidacy, and he said that among them is Podemos, a small party that until recently was with the opposition.

Venezuela's Supreme Court this week issued a decision calling for an immediate change to the party's leadership, recognizing former pro-Chavez state governor Didalco Bolivar as its leader rather than its established leader, Ismael Garcia, a vocal government critic. The decision drew strong criticism from party leaders as well as from Capriles, who said "judicial tricks" were being used to strip him of the party's support.

Chavez said he sees nothing wrong with Podemos joining his camp. "We open our doors," he said. "I've always had a great deal of affection for Didalco."

Chavez also was asked about recent remarks by World Bank president Robert Zoellick, who in a speech said he believed "Chavez's days are numbered."

"To foolish words, deaf ears. I think the one that has its days numbered is global capitalism, of which the World Bank is a part," Chavez said.

He noted that Russia has extended $4 billion in loans to Venezuela, which Chavez plans to put toward military purchases, and that China is about to provide its latest $4 billion loan installment, which is to be paid back with oil shipments.

"Fortunately, we don't depend on the dreadful bank. What's that one called that you mentioned? The World Bank," Chavez said.