RIA Novosti
July 1, 2011

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez stunned the nation on Thursday night in a 15-minute address on state television in which he acknowledged that he had a tumor but has undergone a successful operation in Cuba and was on the road to recovery.

In his emotional speech from Cuba, the 56-year-old Venezuelan president said “an abscessed tumor with cancerous cells” was discovered after doctors had already operated and treated a pelvic abscess, adding that the tumor was operated on again without any complications and removed.

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Chavez did not specify when he would return to Venezuela, but emphasized that he remains in charge of the government and in constant contact with cabinet officials.

“I feel like I’m emerging from a dark abyss and beginning the climb back,” he said.

“Throughout my life, I’ve been making the fundamental error of neglecting my health and being reluctant to get checkups,” he added.

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Vice President Elias Jaua, in a live address from the presidential palace after Chavez’s message, said the government would continue to function normally in his absence.

Supporters of Chavez reacted with dismay and denial of the information about his health problems.

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