World Bulletin / News Desk
Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez declared himself fully recovered from cancer on Monday, three months before an election in which he is seeking another six-year term.
"Free, free, totally free," he told reporters when asked if he was free of the disease that struck a year ago.
The 57-year-old socialist leader was first diagnosed with cancer in the pelvic region in mid-2011. He wrongly declared himself cured at the end of that year before having a recurrence of the disease in February.
But after repeated cycles of treatment in Cuba and Venezuela, Chavez is once again declaring himself fully fit at a crucial time when his health is the main wild card before the Oct. 7 presidential vote.
Perceptions of Chavez's ability to campaign for the election, and govern afterwards, are crucial among voters in what could be one of Venezuela's tightest elections of recent times.
At a four-hour news conference that offered more evidence of Chavez's increasing energy levels, he promised to begin campaigning on the streets with a series of caravans in provincial Venezuela from Thursday.
"Now is when I'm stepping into the action. Our offensive begins right now!" said an ebullient Chavez, who disappeared for long periods during treatment over the last year but has been back dominatingVenezuela's airwaves in recent weeks.
"Chavez is back in the street, the Bolivarian hurricane!" he added, referring to his spiritual idol and Venezuela's independence hero, Simon Bolivar.
Despite Chavez's optimism, doctors say it is impossible to be sure someone is completely cured until at least a couple of years have passed since the last recurrence of cancer.
The former soldier is leading most opinion polls by double digits.
Capriles, a 39-year-old, center-left former governor, has been criss-crossing Venezuela on a "house-by-house" tour in a show of youth and energy that the opposition has been using to contrast with the ailing Chavez, 57.
The president, though, who was famous for his whirlwind on-the-street campaigning of the past, appears to be recovering his energy levels just in time.
"Every day, I feel in better physical condition and I strongly believe ... it is not going to be a determining factor in this campaign," he told reporters. "I'm a veteran of 100 battles and I feel in great moral, spiritual and physical conditions for this fight that is starting."
Kerry tells Lavrov Russia responsible for the dire situation
Separatists 'prepared to take final step' of holding September 2017 referendum
The EU budget commissioner, Kristalina Georgieva, has entered the race to become the United Nations’ next secretary general, after the Bulgarian government swung its backing behind her.
A vote on Wednesday has become the first presidential veto overturned under Obama with the US President calling it a "big mistake"
Half of party executive quits in bid to oust leader, possibly allowing caretaker PM Mariano Rajoy to form government
Hungarians are likely to vote “no” in next week’s referendum on migrant quotas imposed by the EU
A teenage gunman, who injured three people at a South Carolina elementary school before being arrested, carried out the attack after killing his father, local officials said Wednesday.
New authorization brings number of American troops in Iraq to 5,262
Abadi's office said the US government had agreed to the request.
The suspects, a Moroccan and four Spaniards, are accused of inciting attacks and acting as go-betweens for IS recruitment in Europe.
France has repeatedly broken the EU's fiscal rules and a top independent watchdog has said it doubts Paris will reach its target next year either.
Investigation team says launcher brought from Russia to east Ukraine fired missile that hit flight carrying 298 people
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas speaks about the dim prospects for peace with Benjamin Netanyahu’s Israel
Emergency services have arrived at the scene, with the number of people travelling in the helicopter unknown.
Libyan prime minister-designate Fayez al-Sarraj held talks with President Francois Hollande in Paris on Tuesday.
The joint manoeuvres in the strategic waterway between the Gulf and the Sea of Oman come after a series of incidents between Iranian vessels and US warships in the area in recent months.