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New lesion will need surgery, Chavez says

President Hugo Chavez is seeking reelection.

CARACAS - President Hugo Chavez announced yesterday that doctors in Cuba found a new lesion in the same place where he had a tumor removed last year and said he will require surgery.

“It is a small lesion of about 2 centimeters [less than 1 inch] in diameter, very clearly visible,’’ Chavez told state television.

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The announcement thrust Venezuelan politics into new uncertainty because the socialist leader is seeking reelection on Oct. 7, hoping to extend his more than 13 years in power with a new six-year term.

He did not say when he would undergo the surgery, other than “in the coming days.’’

Chavez, 57, said his operation should be less complicated than what he underwent in Cuba last June, when doctors removed a cancerous tumor from his pelvic region.

From July to September, he received four rounds of chemotherapy, both in Cuba and in Venezuela, and he has since said that tests show he is free of cancer.

Yesterday, Chavez denied rumors that the cancer had spread aggressively, even as he said doctors do not know whether the new growth is malignant or not.

“I completely deny what’s going around that I have metastasis in the liver or I don’t know where, that the cancer has spread all over my body and that I’m already dying,’’ he said.

He has never specified the cancer’s exact nature or location, and opposition politicians and critics have repeatedly accused Chavez of a lack of transparency.

Analyst Cynthia Arnson of the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington said yesterday’s announcement hurt Chavez’s prospects for reelection.

“It’s now clear that Chavez’s cancer is far from cured. Chavez’s illness - his ability to campaign as well as to govern - is a major factor in the race. It erodes the aura of invincibility as well as inevitability that Chavez has always tried to create,’’ she said.

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