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Venezuela's Chavez to return to Cuba for more treatment

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 8:04 PM EDT, Sat March 24, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The president says he will begin radiation treatment on Sunday
  • Chavez has not specified the type of cancer he is battling
  • The charismatic and controversial leader is up for re-election in October

(CNN) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Saturday that he will head back to Havana to begin radiation treatment.

The president just returned this month from Cuba, where he underwent cancer surgery. Cuban doctors removed a tumor in February, which Chavez said was smaller than another tumor removed in June.

"I've decided, based on the recommendations of my medical and political teams, to begin ... radiation therapy as a complement to the surgery I had four weeks ago," the president said during comments broadcast by the Venezuelan state-run news channel VTV.

He said he expects to leave Venezuela on Saturday and begin treatment Sunday.

His trip comes at the same time Pope Benedict XVI is scheduled to visit the Caribbean island. The pope, who is on a six-day tour of Mexico and Cuba, is expected to visit Santiago de Cuba and Havana next week.

Chavez has not specified the type of cancer he is battling, and the government has released few specifics, fueling widespread speculation about his health and political future.

The outspoken, flamboyant socialist leader has led Venezuela since 1999 and has pledged to run for re-election in October.

CNN's Patrick Oppmann contributed to this report.

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