July 12: In this photo provided by Miraflores presidential press office, priest Mario Moronta, right, makes a cross sign on Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez's forehead during a mass for Chavez's recovery in Caracas, Venezuela. Chavez underwent surgery in Cuba last June 20 to remove a tumor from his pelvic region. (AP Photo/Miraflores Presidential Office)
Caracas, Venezuela – Unlike other times when Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has practically rolled his eyes in public over his health problems -- dancing and singing before crowds after returning from radiation treatment -- on Thursday he attended Mass, and said tearfully he is not ready to die.
Returning from his latest round of radiation therapy treatment in Cuba, Chávez spoke emotionally about his struggle with cancer.
Amid prayers, Chávez's spoke earnestly of his hopes for survival.
"Give me life even if it's ... painful life. I don't care. Christ, give me your crown. Give it to me, I will bleed. ... Give me life because I still have things to do for these people," he said. "Don't take me yet."
Chávez sat between his parents, holding hands with his mother and father while a priest led a prayer for the president's health. At one point, he shed tears that ran down his cheeks.
The incident follows Brazilian media reports that the ailing Venezuelan President will make an emergency trip to Brazil after allegedly suffering intestinal burns during his radiation treatment in Cuba.
Chávez, who in June of last year revealed that Cuban doctors had removed a cancerous tumor from his abdominal region, has been going back-and-forth from the island nation for treatment. The Brazilian daily O Globo reported a rumor from Venezuelan journalist Nelson Bocaranda that Chávez could be headed to the hospital Sirio e Libanês in Sao Paulo.
Merval Pereira, a columnist with Brazil’s O Globo, reported on Friday that Chávez’s cancer had metastasized and doctors expected it to spread to his liver. Pereira based the report on unnamed Brazilian doctors who he said had reviewed Chávez’s medical records.
Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff offered Chávez Brazilian medical assistance in July, but Chávez preferred to seek treatment in Cuba.
Rumors regarding Chávez’s health have swirled since he fell ill over the summer and had a cancerous tumor removed by Cuban doctors in Havana. The Venezuelan leader treats his disease as a state secret.
“People close to Chávez fear that it is too late for a new treatment here in Brazil, which could have started long ago with the offer made by President (Ignacío Lula da Silva) and President Dilma (Rousseff) ,” O Globo reporter Merval Pereira wrote.
Chávez refused treatment in Brazil due to the Brazilian hospital not being able to provide the level of security and privacy he wanted, including blocking off hospital doors and searching all hospital visitors while Chávez was interred.
The rumors of Chávez’s trip to Brazil cast not only his chances in Venezuela’s upcoming presidential elections in jeopardy, but more so his chances of winning his battle against cancer. While he has given little details about his treatment or his condition, Bocaranda seems to believe that the radiation applied in Cuba could have been improperly aimed and caused the burns.
There is also speculation that Chávez suffered intestinal problems that could have originated from the metastasis of his cancer.
Immediately following the Mass, Chávez hung a red rosary over his neck and became visibly emotional as he spoke to the small crowd attending the event.
"I couldn't avoid several tears," said Chávez, who says he has been recovering well since surgery in February that removed a second tumor from his pelvic region.
"This life has not been easy," he added. "The paths toward revolution never are easy."
The 57-year-old leader has vowed to overcome cancer and is running for re-election in October. Chávez has not identified the type of cancer nor the precise location where the tumors have been removed.The President's health is treated as a state secret by Venezuela and access to the president is strictly controled.
Pereira predicted that Chávez’s condition would undermine his reelection campaign.
“Since the election is in October, it’s likely that toward the end it will be very difficult for him to keep up a competitive campaign against a unified opposition,” Pereira writes.
The Venezuelan opposition elected Miranda state Gov. Henrique Capriles as its candidate in a primary election on Feb. 12.
This contains material form the Associated Press.