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Chavez says he has tumor, clearing up medical mystery

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez acknowledged Thursday night that he had a cancerous tumor.

He made the admission in a late night speech, his first since falling ill 21 days ago.

Chavez was last in Venezuela on June 6, when he left for a three-country tour of Ecuador, Brazil and Cuba. On what was to be the last day of the trip, June 10, he fell ill during a meeting in Cuba and was operated on for a pelvic abscess.

He gave a radio address two days later, but hasn’t been back to his home country in three weeks.

The Venezuelan and Cuban governments this week released photographs and videos of a visibly slimmer Chavez chatting happily with Castro. The video showed him reading a current copy of the Cuban newspaper Juventud Rebelde, giving the production the feel of a proof-of-life video used in kidnappings.

His absence has underscored the personality-driven nature of his administration, which has failed to inform the populace about the president’s condition other than to assure that he’ll be back soon.

Last week, the president’s brother Adan, governor of Barinas state, said Chavez would be back in 10 to 12 days. He later gave a speech saying the government would resort to armed struggled to keep his brother’s socialist plan alive.

But the continued absence of the telegenic leader has created uncertainty here, despite the photos.

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