Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez has returned to Cuba for more radiotherapy to treat a recurrence of his cancer.
Hugo Chavez announced his departure from Caracas in a Twitter message sent from the airport.
“Heading for Havana with faith in Resurrected Christ. We’ll keep living and keep winning!”
Hugo Chavez had surgery in February to remove a second tumor from his pelvic area.
The President told Venezuelans he was returning to Cuba for more treatment after an emotional plea for his life at an Easter mass.
Speaking through tears in his hometown of Barinas, Hugo Chavez asked Jesus to give him more time because he had “things left to do”.
“Give me your crown, Christ, give it to me, I will bleed, give me your cross, a hundred crosses, but give me life, because I still have things left to do for the [Venezuelan] people and for the homeland,” Hugo Chavez said during Thursday night’s mass.
He later said it had been “a spontaneous, sentimental thing” brought about by the presence of his family next to him at the mass.
“My mum gave me her hand with such tenderness, and Dad gave me his… and because of this, tears rolled down my face”, Hugo Chavez said.
The exact nature of Hugo Chavez’s cancer has not been disclosed, fuelling rumors that his health may be worse than officially stated.
Hugo Chavez, who has been in power since 1999, has said that despite his health problems he is determined to win October’s presidential election.
Last year, he had surgery and four rounds of chemotherapy in Cuba, after a baseball-sized growth was detected in his pelvic region.
After the treatment he had said he was free from cancer, only to suffer a recurrence that required surgery in February.
Just hours before leaving for Havana, the Venezuelan leader unveiled a 32.25% increase in the minimum wage, to be introduced in two stages later this year.
“In the 1980s and 90s, the minimum wage was basically frozen, then inflation went through the roof… we’ve been working on this for several weeks,” Hugo Chavez said in a televised cabinet meeting.
Venezuela inflation is currently about 25% a year.
Details were also published of telephone calls Hugo Chavez had made to the leaders of Ecuador and Bolivia, as well as to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Hugo Chavez discussed the unrest in Syria, “especially the successful way the Syrian government had contained armed terrorist gangs… which were seeking in vain to impede the advance of political reforms pushed forward by the Assad government,” according to AP news agency.
At least 9,000 people have been killed, mostly by security forces, since an uprising broke out last year against Bashar al-Assad’s rule.