Cuban surgeons have successfully operated on Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez to remove cancerous tissue, says his Vice-President Nicolas Maduro.
It was the president’s fourth cancer-related operation since June 2011.
At the weekend, Hugo Chavez spoke for the first time about a possible successor, naming Nicolas Maduro as his preferred candidate.
In a TV address, Nicolas Maduro described the president’s operation as both “complex” and a “complete success”.
“We’ve lived through complex moments of tension,” he added, saying that the operation had lasted more than six hours.
In Caracas, the vice-president then led an outdoor vigil with a group of the president’s supporters joining in with a recording of Hugo Chavez singing the national anthem.
Hugo Chavez’s children and grandchildren, as well as political allies including National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello and Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez, were in Havana to be near the president while he underwent the operation, Nicolas Maduro said.
The Venezuelan president had returned from cancer-related treatment in Cuba on Friday but he left again from Caracas early on Monday for further treatment.
The illness was first detected during an initial surgery for a pelvic abscess in June 2011.
During the weekend, Hugo Chavez himself had acknowledged the seriousness of the situation after tests had detected more cancerous cells in the pelvic area.
“There are risks. Who can deny it?” he said in a televised speech on Saturday.
Hugo Chavez added that if his health failed and new elections had to be held, people should vote for Nicolas Maduro, a former bus driver and one of the president’s closest advisers.
“He is a complete revolutionary, a man of great experience despite his youth, with great dedication and capacity for work,” Hugo Chavez said.
In his first speech since being named as Hugo Chavez’s successor, a tearful Nicolas Maduro thanked the president.
“We are eternally grateful to Chavez. We will be loyal to Chavez beyond this lifetime,” he said, adding: “We are the children of Chavez.”
Hugo Chavez, who was re-elected in October for a fourth term as president, is due to begin his new six-year term in office on 10 January.
The constitution states that should the president leave office in the first four years of his term, an election must be held within 30 days.