Chavez OKs budget from Cuban hospital bed

CARACAS, Venezuela, July 20 (UPI) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez indicated he retains key powers even after delegating responsibilities to aides as he approved a budget from the hospital in Cuba, where is undergoing chemotherapy for cancer.

Chavez also confirmed he would seek a new 6-year term in next year's presidential election, an announcement aimed as much to discourage the opposition as to indicate he expects to fully recover his health after the treatment.


Last week Chavez delegated limited powers to Vice President Elias Jaua and Finance Minister Jorge Giordani but resisted calls to appoint an acting leader.

He also didn't reveal details of the kind of cancer he has or the duration of the treatment.

Chavez received offers of treatment from Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff as well but made clear he wished to be near his mentor and former Cuban President Fidel Castro to complete his recovery. Chavez aides have indicated that further treatment in Brazil may be arranged at a later date.

Although Chavez gave budgetary powers to Giordani he took charge when approving a budget for disaster relief and poverty reduction programs from his hospital bed.

Later Chavez shared his approval of the budget through a Twitter account that also revealed the Venezuelan leader is closely following his government's agenda despite his uncertain health.

"To my beloved Caracas I have approved 111 million bolivares ($25.8 million) for the new state-run company Supra-Caracas," Chavez said on his Twitter account.

Chavez arrived in Cuba Saturday night to continue medical treatment for cancer detected during his visit to Cuba in June.

Before heading for Cuba, the Venezuelan leader asked for National Assembly approval to leave his country and temporarily delegate his powers to Jaua and Giordani.

Chavez read the letter he sent to National Assembly Speaker Fernando Soto Rojas, in which he asked the Parliament for authorization to make the trip.

"This is to announce that in the next few hours I will travel to Havana to begin what we call the second stage of this complex and slow recovery process ... This second stage will begin in the coming days with the application of chemotherapy as scientifically planned in detail. I am sure that the second stage will help me follow the path to recover my health," Chavez added.

"I have to continue to meet a strict plan that has been designed by the medical team accompanying me.

"This is the beginning of what we have called the second stage of the recovery process. I have faith in God and all the staff who are taking care of me," added the letter.

Analysts said the procedures followed by Chavez in arranging a partial handover and transfer to Cuba was in contrast to the mystery that surrounded his June stay in Cuba.

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