Hugo Chavez to return to Cuba for medical tests
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Monday he will return to Cuba next week to undergo a series of medical tests to evaluate his cancer treatment.
"I'll be in Cuba next week because they have to conduct very rigorous examinations that are possible thanks to Cuban technology," Chavez said during a brief telephone interview broadcast on state television.
Chavez said he is undergoing constant treatment, exercising and meeting with doctors as part of his efforts to recuperate. He said he even sunbathes under the Caribbean sun.
The president, who finished what he described as his fourth and final round of chemotherapy in Cuba last month, said he is "under constant observation of my doctors" while attending to day-to-day government tasks.
Chavez underwent surgery in Cuba in June to remove a tumor from his pelvic region. He has not revealed what type of cancer he is battling, but he has said that tests have shown no signs of a recurrence.
He vowed last week to win next year's presidential election and govern Venezuela for another six years or more. He said he is drafting a national development plan that would run through 2030.
"I have a very big commitment with all of you," Chavez said.
During a government-organized event featuring pro-Chavez humorists Monday night, Chavez contacted the packed auditorium and drew chuckles from the crowd.
"The doctors told me my hair is growing, and I'm thinking of growing an Afro," Chavez said by telephone, prompting applause and laughs from his backers.
Loudspeakers delivered his comments to the crowd.
Pro-Chavez lawmaker Earle Herrera, a university professor who presented a book of political satire at the event, took a dig at Chavez's opponents for constantly condemning his flirtations with communism as part of a joke about the president's treatment.
"The opposition says Chavez won't be cured because the Cubans are using Marxist chemotherapy," Herrera said, setting off laughter.