Venezuela’s Chavez Returns to Cuba for Medical Treatment

Venezuela's National Assembly approved a request by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez yesterday for him to travel to Cuba to receive medical treatment. National and international private media used the announcement to speculate about the Venezuelan president's health.


Merida, November 28th 2012 ( – Venezuela’s national assembly approved a request by Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez yesterday for him to travel to Cuba to receive medical treatment. National and international private media used the announcement to speculate about the Venezuelan president’s health.

In his request, Chavez explained that he is to receive a special treatment that is comprised of hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) sessions. HBOT is the medical use of pure oxygen in a pressure chamber, and is used to help treat a range of illnesses and injuries, such as burns, carbon monoxide poisoning, and tissue damaged by radiation treatments, but it is not used to treat cancer.

The treatment, along with physiotherapy, “will continue consolidating the process of strengthening my health,” Chavez explained.

Since the last therapy he received six months ago, Chavez explained that he has been “taking care of [his] health” and “complying… with the complementary treatment plan coordinated by the medical team which is supporting [him]”.

Chavez was first diagnosed with cancer in 2011, and since then has been operated on three times, as well as receiving chemotherapy and radiotherapy. In July this year he announced that he was completely cured of the cancer, but would need to continue recovering from the treatment, and looking after his health.

Chavez also explained in his request yesterday that since the 7 October presidential elections he has been working on the tasks that correspond to him, such as issues related to the start of the new presidential cycle in January next year, and the elaboration of the Second Socialist Plan 2013-2019.

The president arrived in Cuba this morning, Cuba’s national paper, Granma, confirmed.

Opposition and private media rumours

National and international private media and members of the Venezuelan opposition have used the announcement to speculate about the President’s health situation.

The Washington Post and Associated Press quoted opposition legislator Alfonso Marquina as expressing concern about what he said seems to be a “veiled or deliberate attempt to continue creating uncertainty.”  The Post also speculated about where Chavez has been since his last public appearance on 15 November.

Reuters made similar speculations about Chavez’s “absence”, and further guessed that,“If his health took a turn for the worse, his unwieldy coalition of military leaders and leftist social activists could fall apart. Investors hoping for a more market-friendly government tend to buy Venezuela’s widely-traded bonds on reports his health is worsening.”

Further, without stating who the doctors are or referring to any other evidence, Reuters speculated that “many Venezuelan doctors…suspect Chavez used steroids and other treatments to look and feel fit during the election campaign, which could have caused him other health problems.”

Most private international media, including CNN, emphasised the supposedly “secret” nature of Chavez’s health.

Opposition governor Henrique Capriles has echoed private media reports today, saying, “A situation of illness creates uncertainty” and calling on Chavez to explain his state of health and how long the treatment will last.

Further, Nelson Bocaranda, a Venezuelan commentator and opposition supporter, has released an “exclusive” today with a supposed Cuban medical report. In his article he claimed Chavez is experiencing strong pain, which is getting worse, and that it was “adrenaline” that kept him going during the presidential election campaign. Supposedly, according to the medical report , the treatment is for “pain and [Chavez’s] stabilisation so that he can have a better quality of life”.

Bocaranda also claimed during the 2010 coup attempt against Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa that it was fake and an “operetta”.