I am free of cancer - Chavez

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IOL pic july10 venezuela chavez Associated Press Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez speaks during a news conference in Caracas - his first as presidential candidate of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela.

Caracas - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez declared himself fully recovered from cancer on Monday, three months before an election in which he is seeking another six-year term.

“Free, free, totally free,” he told reporters when asked if he was free of the disease that struck a year ago.

The 57-year-old socialist leader was first diagnosed with cancer in the pelvic region in mid-2011, then wrongly declared himself cured at the end of that year before a recurrence in February.

But after repeated cycles of treatment in Cuba and Venezuela, Chavez is once again declaring himself fully fit at a crucial time when his health is the main wild card before the October 7 presidential vote.

At a four-hour news conference that offered more evidence of Chavez's increasing energy levels, he promised to begin campaigning on the streets with a series of caravans in provincial Venezuela from Thursday.

“Now is when I'm stepping into the action. Our offensive begins right now!” said an ebullient Chavez.

“Chavez is back in the street, the Bolivarian hurricane!” he added, referring to his spiritual idol and Venezuela's independence hero, Simon Bolivar.

Despite Chavez's optimism, cancer doctors say it is impossible to be sure someone is completely cured until at least a couple of years have passed since the last recurrence of the disease. - Reuters


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