Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has undergone a fourth round of surgery in Cuba, after his cancer reappeared despite a year and a half of treatment.
In a statement broadcast on Venezuelan television and radio on Tuesday, Information Minister Ernesto Villegas, said the surgery was underway and Chavez had “absolute confidence he will overcome the obstacles that have emerged in the path of life,” The Associated Press reported.
The 58-year-old leader traveled to Havana on Monday.
“The medical team has transmitted its optimism about the success of this operation, which is part of the treatment plan that comandante Hugo Chavez is following to recover his health,” Villegas said in an earlier statement.
Ecuadoran President Rafael Correa visited Chavez on Monday, and called the surgery “a very delicate operation.”
“He is going through one of the most difficult moments of his life, this dear friend, colleague and Latin American leader, comandante Chavez,” Correa said.
“Truly, he is a historic president and let’s hope he comes through this health problem totally reestablished,” the Ecuadoran president added.
On Saturday, Chavez stated that he had to undergo another surgery after tests showed that “some malignant cells” had reappeared in the same part of his body from which cancerous tumors were previously removed.
The Venezuelan president called on his supporters to vote for Vice President Nicolas Maduro in the event his health failed or anything happened to him.
In late March 2012, the Venezuelan leader began radiation treatment in Cuba after undergoing an operation in February 2012 that removed a second cancerous tumor from his pelvic region. Chavez’s first tumor, which was baseball-sized, was removed in June 2011 and then he received chemotherapy.
Chavez, who came to power in 1999, was re-elected in October to a new six-year term.