Chavez former doctor says Venezuelan leader has 2 years to live

RIA Novosti

11:27 17/10/2011 MEXICO, October 17 (RIA Novosti) - A former surgeon of ailing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said hopes for the president’s recovery were very slim and the leader has less than two years to live.

There has been much controversy around Chavez’s cancer, but official sources have maintained he was getting better with every day after the 57-year-old president underwent three to four courses of chemotherapy in Cuba.

In an interview with the Mexican Milenio Semanal edition on Sunday, Salvador Navarrete, who had been Chavez’s personal surgeon in Venezuela, was rather pessimistic in his forecasts.

“When I say this, it means that he has no more than two years left,” said Navarrete who had been caring for Chavez from 2002 until recently.

“Judging by the information from his family, Chavez has a tumor in his pelvis, or sarcoma, and this is why he is receiving such aggressive chemotherapy treatment,” he said.

Navarrete’s interview was published on the same day Chavez flew to Cuba for another examination.

The Venezuelan leader assured his people on Saturday that his health was improving after a crisis four months ago. “Thank God, I am alive and kicking, and on my feet,” he said.

In June, Chavez underwent two operations in Havana: one for a pelvic abscess and another one for a malignant tumor in the intestines.

Navarrete said the decision to hold presidential elections in Venezuela ahead of time, next October instead of the traditional December, was connected with Chavez’s frail health and ambition to retain power. The presidential term in Venezuela is six years and was limited to two consecutive terms under constitution from 2009. Chavez has been in power for 12 years.

In late September, Roger Noriega, a former U.S. assistant secretary of state for western hemisphere affairs, accused the Venezuelan authorities of concealing the truth about Chavez’s health ahead of the elections. He also warned the U.S. authorities of the possibility that the Venezuelan leader could leave the political scene.

Noriega quoted “sources” as saying that Chavez’s health was very poor and the treatment was not having the desired effect.

Navarrete in turn described the leader of the Bolivarian Revolution as distrustful. “Now he only trusts Cuban doctors,” he said, adding that Chavez also had a fixation on cleanliness, drank countless cups of coffee a day and could have a cigarette to ease stress.

He also said the Venezuelan president preferred to work at night and liked simple interiors. “Chavez is a very tidy man with attention to detail, and strict,” Navarrete said.

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