Colombia’s Santos to Have Surgery to Remove Prostate Tumor

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced yesterday that he had been diagnosed with prostate cancer and will undergo surgery tomorrow.

Santos, in a speech posted on the presidency’s website, said the procedure to remove the small, non-aggressive tumor will be conducted while he is under local anesthetic so that he won’t lose consciousness. Vice President Angelino Garzon spent time in intensive care in June following a stroke.

“This surgery is annoying, but easy and routine. Fortunately the tumor was discovered very early,” Santos said.

The 61-year-old president said he will continue to work while he remains hospitalized for “some days.” He said that he has a 97 percent chance of a complete cure and that his life isn’t in danger.

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was treated for lymphoma in 2010 and declared herself completely recovered last year. Her predecessor, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, was diagnosed with throat cancer last October and declared himself fully recovered in March.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has had three operations related to an unknown cancer in the past 15 months.

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Chavez in December hinted that the U.S. may be behind a “very strange” bout of cancer affecting several leaders in South America.

The Venezuelan leader, speaking a day after Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner announced she had thyroid cancer, said the Central Intelligence Agency was behind chemical experiments in Guatemala in the 1940s and that it’s possible that in years to come a plot will be uncovered that shows the U.S. spread cancer as a political weapon against its critics.

Fernandez later said her thyroid problems weren’t connected to cancer.

Santos’ approval ratings surged in recent weeks after his government agreed to begin negotiations with Marxist rebels aimed at ending the country’s five-decade armed conflict.

The proportion of Colombians with a favorable image of Santos rose to 63 percent, up 18 percentage points from August, according to those surveyed in a poll by Datexco Co. published last week.

The Colombian government will begin talks with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, in Oslo this month.

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