By Jorge Rueda, AP
CARACAS — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez flew to Cuba late Saturday to begin radiation therapy one month after undergoing surgery that removed a cancerous tumor. Chavez will be in Cuba at the same time as Pope Benedict XVI, who arrives on the communist-governed island on Monday after a visit to Mexico. But Chavez didn’t refer to the pope’s upcoming visit to Havana.
The 57-year-old president describes himself as a Christian. He has regularly clashed with Roman Catholic leaders in Venezuela, but during his illness has often publicly expressed faith in God that he will overcome cancer. Chavez said the radiation treatments are to begin right away on Sunday. He has been recovering from a Feb. 26 surgery in Havana that he said removed a tumor from the same spot in his pelvic region where another tumor was extracted eight months earlier. “I’ve decided, on the recommendation of my medical team and also my government political team, to begin … radiation therapy treatment,” Chavez said in a televised meeting with aides Saturday. He described it as a “complement to the surgery that I underwent.”