Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez blows a kiss to supporters from the presidential palace in Caracas on March 17, 2012.
AFP/Getty Images
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez blows a kiss to supporters from the presidential palace in Caracas on March 17, 2012.

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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.

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.

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.

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.