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Bolivia's president Evo Morales to undergo throat surgery in Cuba

By
Allen Cone
Bolivian President Juan Evo Morales Ayma at the United Nations in New York City on April 22. Morales reporedly flew to Cuba early Friday morning for surgery to remove a small, benign tumor in his larynx. File photo by John Angelillo/UPI
Bolivian President Juan Evo Morales Ayma at the United Nations in New York City on April 22. Morales reporedly flew to Cuba early Friday morning for surgery to remove a small, benign tumor in his larynx. File photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

March 31 (UPI) -- Bolivia's President Evo Morales was scheduled to undergo surgery Friday in Cuba to remove a small, benign tumor in his larynx.

Morales, 57, left the central Bolivian city of Cochabamba for a flight to Cuba after midnight Friday and the surgery was planned at a military hospital in western Havana, said Rene Martinez, Bolivian presidential minister, in a statement on Cuban television Friday.

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"The team of doctors determined the flu symptoms he experienced over the last few days aren't present anymore and he's cleared to have the surgery on Friday," said Martinez, who traveled with Morales to the Cuban capital.

Earlier this week, Bolivian Health Minister Ariana Campero said the tumor is on the left side of Morales' vocal box. He won't be allowed to speak for at least 48 hours after the surgery.

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"I'm sorry to have to leave the country for reasons already known," the president said Thursday during a ceremony to hand over running of the government to Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera. Morales said he will be in frequent contact with the temporary leader.

Morales said his doctors believe it is "not a serious issue."

"I have no pain in my throat, just a hoarseness," the president said.

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In January, the socialist leader said he began to experience hoarseness after a long speech to commemorate his 11 years in power. The hoarseness became a bigger problem after weekly addresses.

Earlier this month, he underwent emergency treatment for dysphonia, sinusitis and abdominal pain, and that's when the tumor was found.

Doctors recommended Morales, the first president of Bolivia who is a member of an indigenous tribe, have the surgery in Cuba.

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