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Chavez Readied for Surgery, Doctors Optimistic

President Hugo Chavez' medical team expressed "optimism" on Tuesday as the cancer-stricken Venezuelan president prepared to undergo a fourth round of surgery in Cuba.

Communications Minister Ernesto Villegas said doctors had begun pre-surgery protocols and would operate later in the day in Havana, where Chavez had arrived on Monday after revealing that his cancer had returned.

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Chavez in Cuba for More Cancer Surgery

President Hugo Chavez returned to Cuba Monday for cancer surgery after naming Vice President Nicolas Maduro his political successor and warning his leadership team to refrain from intrigues.

Chavez was shown on Venezuelan television pumping his fist and shouting "Forward to life always" in an emotional predawn farewell before boarding a plane to Cuba surrounded by his closes aides.

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Chavez Admits Cancer Relapse, Designates Heir Apparent

Leftist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez admitted a relapse of his cancer late Saturday and designated Vice President Nicolas Maduro as his heir apparent in case "something happened" to him.

Speaking on national television, an emotional Chavez said a return of cancer cells was detected during his most recent visit to Cuba for medical examination, and he will return to the communist-ruled island as early as Sunday for another round of surgery.

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Chavez Returns from Cuba after Cancer Treatment

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez appeared in public for the first time in three weeks on Friday as he returned from Cuba after his latest cancer treatment.

Venezuelan state TV showed Chavez, who was re-elected in October, walking down the steps of his plane accompanied by Vice President Nicolas Maduro, and he was seen speaking with officials at Maiquetia international airport.

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U.S. Says Aware of Assad Asylum Offers

The United States said Wednesday it was aware of informal offers of asylum to Syrian President Bashar Assad by countries in the Middle East and elsewhere.

State Department spokesman Mark Toner gave no details, referring reporters to others governments after being asked about speculation that the Syrian president was weighing asylum offers from Latin America.

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Chavez Back in Cuba for New Cancer Treatment

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was back in Cuba on Wednesday for further cancer treatment just weeks after being re-elected to a new six-year term, the state-run Granma newspaper reported.

The newspaper said Chavez arrived at dawn and would be undergoing several sessions of hyperbaric oxygenation, the breathing of pure oxygen in a sealed and pressurized chamber.

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Chavez Returning to Cuba for Cancer Treatment

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said he is returning to Cuba Tuesday to continue treatment for cancer, raising new questions about his health just weeks after he won re-election to another six-year term.

Chavez, who had claimed in July that he was cancer free, disclosed his travel plans in a letter to the National Assembly that left unclear whether he had suffered a relapse.

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In Venezuela, Flipping Used Cars Is a Thriving Industry

With the world's largest oil reserves and the cheapest gas anywhere, you'd think Venezuela is a driver's paradise. Wrong. New cars are scarce and sellers of used ones -- even clunkers -- make a killing.

The counter-intuitive economics stem from rules imposed in 2003 by populist President Hugo Chavez that make it difficult for businesses to obtain hard currency and thus wildly expensive to import new cars and spare parts.

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Chavez backs Assad again, Blames U.S. for War

President Hugo Chavez vowed Tuesday to keep supporting Bashar Assad, calling him Syria's legitimate president and blaming the United States for the war that has raged on for nearly 19 months.

"How can I not support the government of Bashar Assad if it is the legitimate government of Syria?" asked Chavez, who was re-elected Sunday to a third term.

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Ahmadinejad Hails Chavez Vote Victory in Venezuela

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Tuesday extended congratulations to his "dear brother" Hugo Chavez on winning re-election as Venezuela's president, the ISNA news agency reported.

"I wholeheartedly congratulate you and the great nation of Venezuela on holding a passionate election and your renewed election as president," Ahmadinejad told Chavez in a message published by the news agency.

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