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Venezuela's Chavez denies rumors of health setback

Hugo Chavez
In this photo released by Miraflores Press Office, Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez holds a baseball after delivering a message on state TV at Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday Sept. 29.AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez denied rumors of a setback in his health, saying Thursday that he is at work and expects to finish with cancer treatments soon.

Chavez called state television and urged Venezuelans to "pay no attention to rumors." He appeared to be referring to a report in El Nuevo Herald of Miami that he had been hospitalized and that his condition might be deteriorating.

"I'm fine," Chavez said. "I'm here in my place of work and working."

Chavez said he is taking steroids and other medicines as he recovers from chemotherapy treatments for cancer. He said he is working at "half throttle" while undergoing physical and medical therapy.

"Here I am ... Chavez the candidate of the coming year, President Chavez of 2012, of 2013, 2019," said Chavez, who held a baseball glove while chatting with journalists at the presidential palace.

Chavez noted that he is doing light exercises as part of his efforts toward total recuperation.

"The latest tests, all of them, have shown very positive results," he said.

He finished a fourth round of chemotherapy in Cuba last week and has said he is done with those treatments.

"I'm going to completely get out of this soon," Chavez said.

Chavez, 57, underwent surgery in Cuba in June to remove a tumor from his pelvic region.

He has not specified where the tumor was located. He has said previously that tests have shown no signs of a recurrence.

The president said his body has coped well with chemotherapy and assured Venezuelans he would keep them informed.

"I would be the first ... to communicate any difficulty in the process. None beyond the normal has come up," Chavez said.

Critics of Chavez have accused him of giving slow, incomplete reports on his illness that have fed rumors.

Chavez initially said he had been treated for cancer June 30. He said later the surgery to remove the tumor was performed June 20.