Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said he cried alone on June 18 after being told he had cancer by former Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
“I cried for my children,” Chavez, who is divorced with four children, said in an interview on the Televen network. “After I cried in the bathroom, I told myself, ‘this is nothing I can’t handle,’ and I accepted it.”
The ruler said cancer has been like a rebirth, giving life to a “new Chavez.” He said he ignored the pain he began feeling at the end of last year, desperately wanting to celebrate Venezuela’s bicentennial and a summit of Latin American and Caribbean leaders July 5 before submitting to medical care.
Castro told the South American leader he would survive the cancer just as he had overcome an attempted coup in 2002, Chavez said.
Chavez, a 57-year-old former paratrooper, has ruled South America’s largest oil-producing country since 1999. He has vowed to run for re-election next year and win another six-year term, which would end in 2019. Chavez was operated on to remove a “baseball-sized” tumor from his pelvis on June 20. The government has declined to release further details on his health, including what kind of cancer he is fighting.
Chavez flew to Cuba yesterday for a second round of chemotherapy and said he’d be away from Venezuela for at least a week. Chavez said he planned to undergo a medical exam today and begin chemotherapy tomorrow. He received a first round of chemotherapy there last month.
Chavez made a surprise return from Cuba July 4 in time for his country’s bicentennial the following day.
“I was told there were rumors of a coup by the vice president and the defense minister,” Chavez said.
Chavez dismissed those rumors in the interview, saying Venezuela remains stable. He also said his supporters must stay alert because of a permanent U.S. threat against his government.
Asked by former Venezuelan Vice President Jose Vicente Rangel, the journalist interviewing him, how he would like to die, Chavez said, “I wouldn’t like to die.”