Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced on national television late on Saturday he was flying to Cuba for a new cancer surgery and named Vice-President and Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro as his possible successor.
“If something were to happen that would incapacitate me in some way, in that situation, Nicolas Maduro should not just complete, as the constitution requires, the term, but my firm opinion, full like a full moon, absolute and total, is that in that situation that would require new presidential elections to convene, as the constitution requires, you should elect Nicolas Maduro as president,” he said.
Chavez, 58, who has ruled Venezuela for 13 years, underwent three operations for cancer in the pelvic area and four courses of chemotherapy in Cuba and Venezuela within a year.
He said the recent tests had showed a return of some malignant cells in the area where tumors were previously removed.
Chavez, who was reelected for another six-year presidential term in October, said the swelling and pain he felt were due to the strain during the election campaign and the radiation therapy treatment, adding a new surgery was vital and an illness like this always carried risk.