Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez said Thursday he was recovering "rapidly" from surgery to remove a potentially cancerous lesion, reports AFP.
"I am well and I am recovering rapidly," he said in a telephone call to the state-run VTV television, his first public comment since undergoing the operation in Cuba on Monday.
He confirmed that doctors removed a new "lesion" from his pelvic area and said he already has taken his first steps since the surgery.
"I'm doing well... Greetings to everyone. I have been walking since yesterday, taking baby steps," he said, adding he was preparing for his midday stroll, and that he had "been very well fed."
Chavez, 57, added he is monitoring events in Venezuela and pronounced himself "very happy" to see how well his cabinet is managing in his absence.
But he is also keeping up with affairs of state, adding he had got up early on Thursday to sign some documents.
Cuban TV said Chavez was operated on successfully on Monday in the Centre for Medical-Surgical Investigations, Cuba's most modern hospital.
The two and three-story facility sits on a sprawling, leafy campus in western Havana not far from the homes of retired revolutionary icon, Fidel Castro now 85, and President Raul Castro, 80.
It often treats Cuba's sports stars as well as ordinary Cubans whose conditions are complex or are believed to require higher-tech care.
Chavez declared himself cancer-free last October, before announcing on February 21 that a small potentially malignant lesion had been discovered.
Venezuelan officials have never specified the kind of cancer the leftist president is suffering from, but they have denied the disease has spread to other organs.
The leftist firebrand, who has been in power since 1999, faces a strong challenge from 39-year-old Henrique Capriles, who was chosen as the sole opposition candidate to run against him in elections later this year.
Chavez has used Venezuela's vast oil wealth on popular social programs and to help keep afloat his communist ally Cuba, even as he courted anti-US allies from Iran to Libya.
The surgery comes as Chavez readies for what is expected to be one of his toughest political battles ever in October elections as he seeks re-election after 13 years at Venezuela's helm.