April 15 -Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez heads to Cuba for cancer treatment, missing the Summit of the Americas. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
(ROUGH CUT ONLY - NO REPORTER NARRATION) Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez departed on Saturday (April 14) for Cuba where he will undergo his fourth round of cancer radiation treatment. On Saturday, Venezuela's National Assembly legislature authorized the 57-year-old socialist leader to leave the country for up to 90 days, which is longer than on his recent trips to Cuba for radiation treatment. Very little official information has been given about his health, including what type of cancer he has. Chavez underwent three surgeries and chemotherapy before beginning radiation treatment. His opponents have criticized Chavez for seeking treatment in communist-led Cuba, his main ally, instead of Venezuela, and for keeping Venezuelans in the dark about the extent of his illness, raising suspicions that his cancer may have spread. Despite his cancer, Chavez is campaigning hard to win a new six-year term at an October 7 election that is shaping up to be the toughest political fight of his 13 years in power due to his ill health and a serious opposition challenge. Because of his trip, Chavez did not attend this weekend's regional Summit of the Americas taking place in Cartagena, Colombia.