Chavez says his cancer is back
updated 10:43 AM EST, Mon December 10, 2012
- NEW: Parliament will convene special session over Chavez's trip to Cuba, an official says
- "An operation like this, an illness like this, always carries risk," says Hugo Chavez
- He says his vice president should succeed him if his health worsens
- Chavez, who won reelection this year, will return to Cuba for the operation
Havana (CNN) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced late Saturday that his cancer has returned and that he will go to Cuba to undergo surgery.
Speaking during a televised address from the presidential palace, he said that if his health were to worsen, Vice President Nicolas Maduro should replace him.
It was the first time Chavez spoke publicly about the possibility of a successor -- a shocking admission from a man who looms larger than life in Venezuela and in Latin American politics.
"It's absolutely necessary, absolutely vital that I undergo a new operation," said Chavez.
Venezuelan leader's long cancer fight
2011: Chavez heads to Cuba for chemo
2011: Chavez vows to win battle for life
As he spoke, he repeatedly kissed a cross and at one point broke out into song.
"An operation like this, an illness like this, always carries risk," he said. "If something were to happen that would incapacitate me, Nicholas Maduro should not only finish my term as the constitution requires ... You should also elect Nicholas Maduro to be president."
A special session of parliament will be convened Sunday morning to consider Chavez's health and his pending trip to Cuba, Diosdado Cabello, president of the Venezuelan National Assembly, said on state-run TV.
The parliament is required under the constitution to approve any trip that takes the president out of the country for more than five days.
Just this week, Chavez returned from Cuba after receiving medical treatment. He said doctors detected malignant cells and that he expects to undergo surgery in the coming days.
Read more: Chavez makes appearance after Cuban treatment
The president has repeatedly spoken publicly about his cancer battle, but has never specified what type he has.
Chavez, who had surgery in 2011 to remove a cancerous tumor, has undergone further operations and radiation therapy in Cuba since then. He declared himself cancer-free in July.
The government has released few specifics, fueling widespread speculation about his health and political future.
Health rumors dogged Chavez on the campaign trail this year, but didn't stop him from winning reelection in October.
Details of his health, however, have been a closely held secret, and some people who claim to have insider knowledge say the president is in much worse condition than he publicly lets on.
CNN's Dana Ford and Rafael Fuenmayor contributed to this report.
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:26 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
updated 7:09 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
updated 1:01 PM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
updated 10:48 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
updated 12:07 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
updated 7:15 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
updated 7:06 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
updated 7:37 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
updated 2:18 AM EST, Fri February 8, 2013
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.