Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is determined to stay in office for years to come despite treatment for a cancerous tumor in Cuba. In an interview published by the government newspaper Correo del Orinoco, Chavez said he would run for re-election in 2012 and suggested he hoped to remain in office until 2031.
The AP reports that Chavez, despite a personal illness and a struggling economy, is still popular with many Venezuelans:
"A poll released last week said Chavez's public approval rating remains at 50 percent and hasn't significantly varied since his cancer diagnosis."
Chavez, who was first elected in 1999, has said that a baseball-sized tumor was removed from his pelvic region during surgery in late June in Cuba. The leftist leader, however, has not released details of his condition, other than to say that he also underwent chemotherapy while in Cuba and would return their for further treatment. El Universal in Caracas notes:
"The Venezuelan president promised to continue his treatment and reported that he should observe 'a stricter regime' concerning nutrition and clinical checkups, ahead of 'new cycles of chemotherapy.'"
The Economist says the coming and going of the president for treatments in Cuba has given the opposition a new argument against Chavez:
"The opposition says that the country cannot be run from abroad. The constitution states that the vice-president must stand in fully when the president is 'temporarily absent'. Pro-government legislators argue that the opposition is seeking to ease Mr Chávez out of office. But his many exhortations in recent weeks urging unity, both in the ruling party and in the army, suggest that the president is worried that any relaxation of his grip risks unleashing a struggle for power."