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Chavez still battling cancer, Spanish newspaper says

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 5:53 AM EST, Tue January 24, 2012
Last year, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez went to Cuba for cancer treatments.
Last year, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez went to Cuba for cancer treatments.
  • NEW: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has pledged to run for re-election this year
  • A lawmaker mocks a Spanish newspaper report, saying it made him laugh
  • Report: Chavez's health "appears to be deteriorating"
  • The president has said treatment he had in Cuba cured him of cancer

(CNN) -- Cancer has spread in Hugo Chavez's colon, spine and bones, and the Venezuelan president could have only nine months to live, Spain's ABC newspaper reported Monday, citing medical records provided by unidentified intelligence sources.

"His health appears to be deteriorating at a more rapid pace. Clearly there has been metastasis in the bones and the spine," the ABC report says, citing what it said were doctors' observations after medical tests December 30.

The newspaper did not divulge its sources or detail how it checked the information's accuracy, and CNN was unable to verify the report. An official in Venezuela's information ministry said the newspaper's report was invalid and the government would not comment on its contents.

In June, Chavez said doctors in Cuba had removed a cancerous tumor from his body but did not specify what type of cancer it was.

Chávez habla ante la Asamblea Nacional
Hugo Chávez y la reelección

He announced in October that treatment had cured him of cancer, but the government has released few details about his health.

"There are no malignant cells in this body. They don't exist," Chavez, 57, said at the time.

The ABC newspaper report details what it says are doctors' differing estimates of Chavez's life expectancy during the course of his treatment.

According to ABC, in June doctors diagnosed Chavez with prostate cancer but said he could live for five years or more with treatment.

In late October, ABC says, the president's medical team said the number of cancerous cells in his bone marrow had increased. In late December, according to the newspaper, doctors said they had found a tumor in Chavez's colon. The president was refusing a more intense recommended treatment and could have only nine months to live, ABC says, citing medical records.

Citing a January 12 medical report, ABC says Chavez was receiving "increasing doses of painkillers and stimulants that have helped him give the impression that he is stabilizing and have given him a high level of visibility."

Emili Blasco, author of the article and the newspaper's Washington correspondent, defended the story in an interview with CNN en Español on Monday night.

He called the report "reliable," and stressed that his paper has no agenda.

A lawmaker from Chavez's United Socialist Party of Venezuela mocked the newspaper report's claims, which come at the start of a politically-important year for the Venezuelan president.

Chavez has pledged to run for re-election in 2012, dismissing speculation that his illness would force him out of politics.

"We have laughed a lot about this because because they insist, but they are seeing a Chavez that is active, that is working, that is in front of the government, of the party, of the fight, of the problems of the people and who is demonstrating that he is healthy," lawmaker Aristobulo Isturiz said at a news conference broadcast on state television.

Isturiz, who is vice president of Venezuela's National Assembly, noted that an energetic Chavez gave a state of the union speech that lasted more than nine hours earlier this month. The desires of political opponents of Chavez are fueling speculation, Isturiz told reporters.

"Desires are one thing, and there are many who wish Chavez had not nine months, but one month (to live)," he said.

Journalist Osmary Hernandez contributed to this report.

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