Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said from a Havana hospital that he is in possession of his "full faculties" after emergency surgery for a pelvic abscess he underwent at a Cuban hospital.

In a telephone call Sunday night to Caracas-based regional news network Telesur, Chavez said that his doctors told him that "they cannot explain how an infection did not appear."

He also said that the biopsies showed that "there is no sign of malignancy" and the wound "is more or less deep" but that the pus is draining from it normally.

"I really regret these things," he added after mentioning that he did not have a date in mind when he might return to Venezuela, that being dependent upon "the evolution of the recovery in the face of a considerable injury," the recuperation from which "cannot be hurried."

"It's not going to be long," Chavez said referring to his recovery period, but he said he "can't answer precisely" when he will return to his country.

In the meantime, Chavez said he remains in constant touch with his aides in Caracas.

He also said that Fidel Castro and his brother, Cuban President Raul Castro, had visited him in the hospital and he expressed his gratitude to them for the "great love and affection" they had demonstrated for him, just as other leaders have done, among whom he named his counterparts in Argentina, Bolivia and Ecuador.

The 56-year-old Chavez was operated on in Havana after he concluded his tour of Brazil, Ecuador and Cuba, a trip he had to postpone last May because of a problem with one of his knees that caused him to have to rest for a month.

The Venezuelan leader expressed regret for what he called the "sadism" that some of his opponents have expressed, saying that he should hand over power to his vice president, Elias Jaua, due to his inability to govern as a result of his medical condition.

"I have my full faculties," he repeated and guaranteed that if that were not the case "I would be the first to make a decision" to delegate power.

He said that it was Fidel Castro who ordered the tomography tests that detected his abscess on Thursday evening.

"I felt a chill, discomfort and he (Fidel Castro) took note" of it and encouraged him to have an exam, Chavez said, adding that the former Cuban leader had brought him some movies so that he could "disconnect" temporarily from the problems that he must attend to.