- - Monday, December 10, 2012

CARACAS — President Hugo Chavez flew to Cuba on Monday for a third cancer operation after designating the vice president as his political heir.

State television showed images of Mr. Chavez hugging Vice President Nicolas Maduro and other aides before boarding the presidential jet.

Mr. Chavez raised a fist as he climbed the stairs alone. From the doorway of the plane, he waved and shouted “Long live our homeland!”

The president has said he will undergo cancer surgery in Havana in the coming days.

Mr. Chavez, who had returned from Cuba early Friday, said on television Saturday that tests had found a return of “some malignant cells” in the same area where tumors were previously removed.

He also said for the first time that if he suffers complications, Mr. Maduro should be elected as Venezuela’s leader to continue his socialist movement.

State television reported that Mr. Chavez departed for Cuba after 1 a.m. Monday. Video of his departure was shown hours later.


President eyes vote if court reject reforms

TEGUCIGALPA — President Porfirio Lobo says he will seek a referendum for police reform if the Supreme Court fails to back his plan.

The Supreme Court is expected to rule this week on the constitutionality of Mr. Lobo’s proposal to clean up Honduras’ notoriously corrupt national police.

Mr. Lobo says he will not let the plan’s opponents “take democracy from the people.”

He stepped up his rhetoric over the weekend against judges and businessmen he says are being led by publishing magnate Jorge Canahuati in a conspiracy against him, similar to the 2009 coup that removed his predecessor, Manuel Zelaya.

Mr. Lobo said Mr. Canahuati, who publishes Honduras’ two largest newspapers, is colluding with the judges.

Mr. Canahuati calls Mr. Lobo’s statements “reckless” and denies involvement in any conspiracy.

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