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Hugo Chavez declares himself cancer-free

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said yesterday his cancer treatment has been successful and that he was free of the disease as he arrived home after medical tests in Cuba.

The test results “allow me to affirm that I am free of the disease,” declared Mr Chavez, who flew directly from Havana to the town of La Fria, 645 kilometres southwest of Caracas.

The Venezuelan leader had a tumour extracted in June in Havana, and has since undergone four rounds of chemotherapy.

Mr Chavez’s return was broadcast in a special transmission on all of the country’s television and radio stations. “A vital stage of the treatment of the disease ... has concluded,” said Mr Chavez, who appeared relaxed in his military fatigues. The treatment, which combined surgery and chemotherapy, “had a successful conclusion,” he said. Mr Chavez however was more cautious than triumphant, warning that it “is necessary to continue monitoring in these cases.”

The President later drove in a caravan to La Grita, about 40 kilometres from La Fria, where he was to pray at the sanctuary of the Holy Christ, Venezuela’s most popular pilgrimage site.

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