Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is back in Cuba to complete the “homestretch” of his radiation therapy for the cancer that was detected while he was on a visit to the island last year, state media reported Tuesday.
Chavez landed early Tuesday in Havana and was greeted with a “warm welcome” from President Raul Castro.
The morning news on Cuban state television also reported Chavez’s return and showed videos without sound of the Venezuelan president and Castro in the Havana airport.
Only four days since he was last in Cuba, the Venezuelan president has returned to Havana to continue the treatment prescribed after he was operated in late February for a tumor, a recurrence of the cancer that was detected in June 2011.
“I must return to our beloved Cuba to complete the homestretch of this treatment…with a faith that gets greater every day,” an emotional Chavez said Monday in Caracas, and again entrusted himself to Jesus Christ to perform a “miracle” on his behalf in his fight against cancer.
The Venezuelan president’s new stay on the island has the express permission of Venezuela’s National Assembly, which on Monday gave him carte blanche to remain in Cuba as long as his treatment requires.
Chavez was operated in June 2011 in Havana to have a pelvic abcess removed as he was wrapping up a trip to Brazil, Ecuador and Cuba, and later a cancer was detected in the same spot, which required another operation several days later, also on the island.
Since then the Venezuelan head of state returned to the island six other times in the following months for chemotherapy and medical exams.
After his third operation in late February 2012, Chavez went to Cuba five more times, including the current visit, for radiation therapy.
His last sojourn in Havana continued for 11 days, from April 14-26.
In all Chavez’s trips to the island, Cuban officials have maintained a strict silence about his health and the treatments he received, and it was generally the Venezuelan president himself who provided updates from Havana about the status of his health and the therapy he was undergoing through contacts with Venezuelan media and postings on Twitter.
Last Saturday, former Cuban President Fidel Castro spoke of Chavez’s health in one of his “Reflections” and praised the Venezuelan president’s “heroic and disciplined” attitude in dealing with his illness.
Chavez hopes to be voted into office for a third time in the Oct. 7 presidential election that will pit him against the united opposition candidate, Henrique Capriles.
Venezuela is a vital political ally of Cuba and its biggest trade partner.
Caracas provides Havana with 100,000 barrels per day of petroleum which Cuba pays for, in part, with medical, educational and sports services.