Chavez Heads to Cuba Ahead of Pope

Hugo Chavez back on Feb. 25th when he was leaving for Cuba for the second operation. Photo: Venezuelan government.

HAVANA TIMES, March 24 — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez traveled to Havana on Saturday night, for medical reasons, less than 48 hours before Pope Benedict XVI is set to begin his three-day visit to Cuba.

Chavez, 57, had a second tumor removed on February 26, and will now undergo the first of a series of radiation therapy sessions to try and keep any new cancerous cells from developing.

“Now I’m leaving for Havana to continue working, but above all, to fully recover my health… I ask God… for everything to turn out well,” Chavez said before leaving Caracas International Airport.

“I am going to begin the phase of radiation therapy… it’s a good thing this is a soldier’s body,” he added, reported Telesur TV.

“Only a month ago I was being operated on in a difficult procedure to remove another tumor,” he said. “Yesterday they took out the stitches.”

“I’ll be back in a few days,” said Chavez. “You all should know that radiation therapy is for several days, and after that a break, and after that other days and another break. So I’m going to be going and coming. It’s possible that we may do some of the sessions here in Venezuela. We’re evaluating it. What’s most important, whether its there or here, is the effectiveness of the treatment,” quoted AP.

Chavez defended his decision to return to Cuba for treatment noting he will receive the radiation therapy at the same hospital where he was first diagnosed for cancer and had both tumors removed, in June 2011 and then a month ago.

The president is seeking reelection on October 7 and hopes that his heath will not interfere with the campaign.

Meanwhile, the Cuban government is preparing a mega reception for Pope Benedict XVI in both Santiago de Cuba and Havana.

NOTE: Chavez arrived in Havana near midnight and was received at the airport by Cuban President Raul Castro.