Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez bid an emotional farewell laced with references to Jesus Christ and independence hero Simon Bolivar as he departed on Friday, Feb 24, for Cuba for urgent surgery to remove a tumor he says is probably malignant.
According to AP, several hours later, Chavez contacted Venezuelan state television by telephone, saying he had arrived in Cuba and had been greeted by Raul Castro at the airport.
“I have faith that everything will go well,” Chavez said.
The president said he planned to meet with doctors on Saturday, and undergo a series of medical tests.
Chavez, 57, is turning to the same Cuban doctors who extracted a baseball-size cancerous tumor from his pelvic region last summer. This time, the growth is smaller, about an inch (two centimeters) in diameter.
Cuba and Venezuela are staunch allies, and Chavez enjoys a warm relationship with former leader Fidel Castro and his brother Raul.
The Venezuelan president has not disclosed the precise location of either tumor, nor said what kind of cancer he had, but described next week’s surgery as urgent.