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Chavez says doctors removed cancerous tumor from his body

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Chavez details recent surgery in speech
  • "We will live and we will overcome," Chavez says in closing
  • He says doctors found "an abscessed tumor with cancerous cells"
  • Chavez does not reveal treatment details or when he will return to Venezuela
  • Thursday's speech is Chavez's first on state television since his June 10 surgery

(CNN) -- Doctors in Cuba detected and removed a cancerous tumor from Hugo Chavez's body, the Venezuelan president announced in a speech broadcast on state-run VTV Thursday night.

Chavez said he was continuing treatment, but did not specify what that treatment entailed, where the tumor was located or when he would return to Venezuela.

The "abscessed tumor with cancerous cells" was discovered after doctors had already operated and treated a pelvic abscess, he said. Doctors operated again without any complications and removed the tumor, he said.

Chavez said he was "receiving complementary treatments to combat the different types of cells found," and that his condition continued "evolving satisfactorily."

"I wanted to speak to you with the sun of the dawn ... I think we have achieved it, thank God," he said.

Chavez walks with Cuba's Castro

Chavez appeared steady but subdued as he spoke, flanked by a large portrait of South American independence hero Simon Bolivar on one side and the Venezuelan flag on the other. He frequently glanced down at his prepared text during the 15-minute speech.The performance showed none of the combative energy that normally characterizes his addresses, where he'll speak extemporaneously for hours on end, skewering his opponents with gusto and sketching out the vision for his "21st-century socialism."

"Throughout my life, I've been making the fundamental error of neglecting my health and being reluctant to get checkups," he said, explaining how health concerns began to pop up earlier this month while he was in Cuba on a state visit.

Chavez closed his speech by saying, "Now and always, we will live and we will overcome. Thank you very much. Until my return."

He gave no indication of any plans to delegate power during his treatment in Cuba.

Venezuelan Vice President Elias Jaua appeared on state television shortly after Chavez's speech.

"There is no time for sadness, but time for reflection, for courage and for work," he said, standing beside a group of government ministers. "Unity is what is required at this time."

Thursday's speech was Chavez's first on the state-run network since doctors in Cuba performed emergency surgery on the Venezuelan leader nearly three weeks ago.

The Venezuelan president's typically frequent live television appearances have been absent from the country's airwaves since doctors in Cuba first performed surgery to treat a pelvic abscess June 10.

His lengthy stay in Cuba and notable low profile have fueled rampant speculation about his health.

Concerns about the seriousness of his condition intensified Wednesday after Venezuelan officials announced the postponement of a high-profile summit of Latin American leaders originally scheduled to take place in Venezuela next month. The government cited Chavez's "strict process of recovery and medical treatment" as the reason behind the decision, but provided few details about his health.

Over the weekend, several allies of Chavez denied that he had cancer.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, VTV broadcast video of Chavez walking and talking with former Cuban leader Fidel Castro in Havana.

The video showed Chavez, wearing his trademark track suit, talking with Castro and looking at Tuesday's edition of the state-run Granma newspaper. But while the video showed the pair acting chummy as they talked, neither leader addressed the Venezuelan president's medical condition.

The images reaffirmed what Venezuelan officials have been saying, Jaua told state-run VTV Wednesday. Chavez deserves to have the time he needs to recover from surgery, he said.

Journalist Osmary Hernandez contributed to this report.