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Venezuela's Chavez returns to Cuba for more treatment

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 12:50 AM EDT, Sun March 25, 2012
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez blows a kiss to supporters from the presidential palace in Caracas on March 17, 2012.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez blows a kiss to supporters from the presidential palace in Caracas on March 17, 2012.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • 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 is expected to begin radiation treatment Sunday in Cuba, where he underwent cancer surgery late last month.

Chavez flew to Havana late Saturday night. His treatment is expected to last about a month, he said in a message on state media before departing.

In February, Cuban doctors removed a tumor, 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.

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

His trip comes at the same time Pope Benedict 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.

CNN's Patrick Oppmann contributed to this report.

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