- Venezuela's president says he will undergo surgery on Monday or Tuesday
- Venezuela's National Assembly approves his request to go to Cuba
- Chavez vows to return to Venezuela with more energy and enthusiasm
- Doctors must remove a lesion and determine whether it is cancerous, he says
Doctors in Cuba will operate on Hugo Chavez early next week, the Venezuelan president said Thursday.
"Since I must have tests and preparations for the surgery, it will be in the first part of next week, Monday or Tuesday," Chavez said during a government meeting broadcast on state television.
The meeting came after Venezuela's National Assembly approved Chavez's request to leave the country for an indefinite period and maintain his presidential power.
Chavez announced Tuesday that he would undergo surgery to remove a lesion from the same area where doctors removed a cancerous tumor from his body last year.
He told state-run VTV that the lesion was likely malignant, due to its location, which he did not disclose.
In June, Chavez said doctors in Cuba had removed a cancerous tumor but did not specify what type of cancer it was. He announced in October that treatment had cured him.
Word of the new operation comes at a critical time, about seven months ahead of presidential elections in Venezuela.
The Venezuelan leader said Thursday that he planned to leave for Cuba on Friday. He said he did not know how long his stay would last, but vowed to remain in close touch with his advisers.
"We will be in permanent contact every day," he said.
On Thursday, Chavez said he was upbeat about his prognosis.
"I will return as I always return, with more energy, with more enthusiasm, more happiness and resolve to take my place in the vanguard," he said in a letter to the National Assembly.