President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela says he has had surgery to remove a cancerous tumour.
The country’s socialist leader was speaking from Cuba where he has been receiving treatment, while finding time to relax with his mentor Fidel Castro.
On Venezuelan TV he said he had had an operation to remove a pelvic abscess.
“(The doctors) confirmed the existence of a tumorous abscess, with the presence of cancerous cells, which required a second operation to extract the tumour completely,” he said.
Usually Chávez improvises and jokes, but this time he was serious and read from notes. He said the second operation had been successful.
“Since then I’ve made satisfactory progress while receiving complementary treatment to combat the diverse types of cells that were found,” he went on.
It is not known what that treatment involves, but some think it could be chemotherapy.
In Caracas supporters held an emotional prayer service for his health in a large church.
The news raises questions about next year’s presidential election. Chávez did not say when he would return to Venezuela, nor did he name a temporary replacement.
Chávez admitted he had made “fundamental errors” in failing to look after himself properly and being reluctant to receive treatment.