Caracas – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez interrupted his convalescence Thursday with an appearance at a military academy in the capital, although he said he needs to slow his typically hectic work schedule while undergoing treatment for cancer.
Chavez greeted cadets at the Fuerte Tiuna base, his first public appearance outside the presidential palace since returning to Venezuela early Monday following surgery in Cuba to remove a cancerous tumor.
The 56-year-old president complained of abdominal pain during an official visit to Cuba early last month, and emergency surgery to remove an abscess led to the discovery of cancer, though he did not disclose the seriousness of his condition until last week.
"I shouldn't overdo it. I need to rein in the old horse," Chavez told the cadets, though he confessed he feels the urge to defy the strict recovery regimen imposed by his doctors.
Chavez, who has not yet revealed where in his body the tumor was located, gave the cadets new details of what he experienced in Cuba and said the day he left intensive care was a type of rebirth.
He said in televised remarks that he awoke on June 24 and left the intensive-care unit of the hospital, where four days earlier doctors had removed the malignant tumor.
"When I say I've begun my return from another abyss, it's not my return, truly," he said.
"Let's begin a new climb, which began on June 24. That (day) for me is and will continue to be - in the road I have ahead of me - very important, extremely important, because June 20 was the second difficult, long operation. I had been warned of the possibilities, the huge risks," he said.
"When I woke up .. . it was the 24th and I was still in intensive care; I didn't know exactly how I was doing but a few hours later the doctors told me 'extraordinary recovery.'"
Chavez's remarks came after opposition politicians demanded more information about his "probable" illness.
Meanwhile, Miami daily El Nuevo Herald on Thursday cited U.S. cancer specialists as saying that, based on the information provided thus far by Chavez, his prospects for a full recovery are minimal and he will probably not survive more than two or three years.
The doctors based their speculation on Chavez's statement that he underwent a six-hour operation after suffering a pelvic abscess and also the fact that an "abscessed tumor" with cancerous cells was removed, El Nuevo Herald reported.
After returning to Venezuela Monday, almost one month after beginning a foreign tour that included initial stops in Brazil and Ecuador, Chavez told his supporters that he still has not recovered and is now fighting to defeat the disease.
Chavez has been in power for more than a decade and can run again in 2012 after voters ended constitutional term limits in a referendum two years ago
The Venezuelan president has given no indication he won't pursue re-election again next year.