Chavez Departs for More Radiation, Plans Return for Coup Date

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said he’s leaving for more radiation therapy in Cuba to treat an undisclosed cancer and will return as soon as April 11 in time to commemorate the 2002 coup that briefly ousted him from power.

Chavez, speaking yesterday on state television, said he plans to be back April 11 or 12 to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the coup. He didn’t give any more details on his health as he leaves for his third round of radiation treatment.

“It was all set,” Chavez said about plans to assassinate him during the coup while holding an image of Christ he says he carried during those days. “I have a lot of faith that Christ, my lord, will repeat the miracle of giving me life to defeat this disease.”

Chavez, who has undergone three operations as part of his treatment since June, seeks to recover from the cancer in time to campaign for re-election in October in a bid to extend his 13-year rule until 2019. The government hasn’t disclosed any succession plans in case Chavez, 57, isn’t healthy enough to participate in the elections.

Chavez, during the meeting with ministers at the presidential palace in Caracas yesterday, also said he’s raising the country’s minimum wage 32 percent this year by Sept. 1 to 2,048 bolivars ($476) from 1,548 bolivars.

The minimum wage will be raised 15 percent effective May 1, the country’s labor day, and another 15 percent starting Sept. 1, Chavez said.

‘Real Threat’

Speaking at a Catholic mass in his home state of Barinas April 5, Chavez wiped tears from his face as he pleaded for life in his fight against cancer. Chavez said cancer is a “real threat” that takes many lives and that he has faith that he will win the battle against the disease.

“If this was necessary, may it be welcome,” Chavez said at the mass for his health. “But I ask God to give me life, however painful. I can carry 100 crosses, your crown of thorns, but don’t take me yet. I still have things to do.”

Chavez may travel to Brazil for medical treatment after having a reaction to the radiation therapy, Merval Pereira, a columnist for O Globo newspaper reported April 5, without saying where he got the information.

Chavez is also having intestinal problems, which might be a sign the cancer is spreading, Pereira added.

Appropriate Treatment

Brazilian and Venezuelan doctors have clashed with Cubans on the medical team over whether radiation therapy is the appropriate treatment for Chavez, Nelson Bocaranda, a journalist who frequently reports on the president’s health in the absence of details from the government, wrote April 5 on his blog.

Chavez received a phone call from former Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva on April 3 in which the Venezuelan leader said he would like to visit Brazil soon to meet with Lula and President Dilma Rousseff, Venezuela’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement sent by e-mail.

Apart from Lula, Chavez spoke this week by phone with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Bolivian President Evo Morales and Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa about his health and events and projects in the respective countries, according to Foreign Ministry statements sent by e-mail.

Chavez, who returned April 4 from Cuba after undergoing the second round of radiation, said on his arrival that his body had no adverse reactions from the treatment and that all tests showed his recovery was going well.

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