President Hugo Chavez said he plans to return to Venezuela in the next few days after cancer treatment in Cuba, and that he’ll soon be in the front line of effort to extend his 13-year rule in October elections.
“I’ll emerge from this special situation in the following days,” said Chavez, who spoke on state television last night via telephone for the first time since April 30. “The campaign starts in July, August, September, and I’m going to work very hard.”
Chavez, who is undergoing treatment for an undisclosed form of cancer, said his goal is to win the October election with 70 percent of votes, even as he faces speculation his illness is worse than he has disclosed. Since June, he has undergone three operations and several rounds of chemotherapy and radiation treatment in Cuba.
Chavez, 57, said he had returned to the communist island to receive radiation therapy, physical therapy and to rest. He created a Council of State last week to advise on key issues as his treatment limits his ability to govern.
Venezuelan Interior and Justice Minister Tarek El Aissami said today that Chavez will return in the “coming hours” and that the only scenario being discussed within the government is one where he wins re-election in October.
“People are talking about various scenarios, plans, but there’s only one plan, and that’s Hugo Chavez on October 7,” Aissami said, according to Union Radio. “In the coming hours he’ll return to his fatherland and we know and have faith in God in the medical treatment that Cuba has given him.”
Investors increased holdings of Venezuelan debt this year on speculation that Chavez’s ill-health may lead to a change in government and a reversal of policies that have dried up foreign investment due to nationalizations and capital controls.
Venezuelan government bonds have returned 23 percent this year through May 7, the second most among emerging markets after the Ivory Coast, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co.
The yield on the government’s benchmark 9.25 percent bonds due in 2027 rose 13 basis points, or 0.13 percentage point, to 10.98 percent at 1:30 p.m. in Caracas, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The bond’s price fell 0.86 cents to 87.25 cents on the dollar.
Before departing April 30 on his sixth trip to Cuba this year, Chavez said the Council of State’s first task would be to study whether Venezuela should exit the Organization of American States’ human rights commission, which he accused of bias against his government.
Vice President Elias Jaua, who heads the eight-member council, said the constitution established it as a consulting body and denied speculation that it is a transitional body, according to a government statement sent by e-mail yesterday.
Chavez has named five members to the council, while the National Assembly plans to name another member today. State governors yesterday nominated Vargas Governor Jorge Garcia Carneiro, who is a general, state-run Agencia Venezolana de Noticias reported. That just leaves the Supreme Court to name its representative to the council.
Chavez also said last night that Venezuela’s opposition was working to promote unrest before the coming election.
“We should work to neutralize all the destabilization plans that seek to ruin the peace in the country,” Chavez said.