Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced Tuesday that he will undergo surgery to repair a 1-inch "abscess" in the same abdominal area where Cuban doctors removed a cancerous tumor in June.
Chavez's surprise announcement, made during an official trip to Barinas state, came amid swirling rumors published this week in Brazil's O Globo newspaper that his cancer had metastasized to his liver.
"It's a small lesion, about 2 centimeters in diameter, very clearly visible, which requires new surgery, which one supposes will be less complicated than the last one," Chavez said as he visited the Santa Ines industrial complex.
Chavez has never said what kind of cancer he has or its specific location, although he did declare himself cured several weeks ago. He has had two surgeries, both in Cuba in June, and four rounds of chemotherapy.
Chavez also disclosed that evidence of the abscess surfaced during a checkup Saturday in Cuba. "They did some contrast imaging and also a magnetic resonance imaging test and since there have been so many rumors, I decided to let the country know," Chavez said.
The 57-year-old leader did not specify when or where he would undergo the surgery, or how long his recovery might take.
Chavez has spent much of the last week hurling insults at Henrique Capriles, the governor of Miranda state, who topped four other opposition candidates in a Feb. 12 primary to earn the right to face Chavez in the presidential election in October.
"There are people who want me to die because they hate me," Chavez said Tuesday. "They and their evil wishes. They've circulated rumors all these months. They have done it to create anxiety, to destabilize the country."
Chavez said he disliked making the nation suffer "but it's the truth; we will overcome this. They will operate on me again, they will decide whether it's related to the last tumor or not, and on the basis of that, we will make it public after the operation."
Although apparently bloated, Chavez had seemed reasonably energetic in recent public appearances, although most have been followed by absences of several days, possibly to allow the president time to rest and regain his strength.
Special correspondents Mogollon and Kraul reported from Caracas and Bogota, respectively.