Doctor Who Spoke of Chavez's Cancer is 'Forced to Leave' Venezuela

The Venezuelan doctor who was quoted as saying that cancer-stricken President HugoChávez would likely die in the next two years, said he and his family find themselves "forced to leave the country."

In a letter published Friday in the opposition daily TalCual, Dr. Salvador Navarrete confirmed his prognosis of Chávez cancer, though he said it was "conjectural" and that the Mexican weekly that published it last Sunday did it with "a countless amount of distortions and lucubration."

"I basically tried to present the medical problem of President Hugo Chávez Frias without the kind of sensationalism they chose to give it," he said.

He said that his account of Chávez's illness was based on official reports and clues given by the president himself, so that "it's no more than a clinical exercise that anyone of the medical profession could perform in order to arrive at a diagnosis and a conjectural prognosis, nothing definitive."

Chávez, who has refused to reveal the details of the illness, repeatedThursday, upon his return from Cuba, where he had a cancerous tumor removed four months ago, that the battery of tests he underwent this week confirmed that he is cancer-free.

"The information I have from the (Chávez) family is that he has a sarcoma, a tumor with a very bad prognosis, and I'm almost sure that's the truth," Navarrete said in the interview with the Mexican weekly Milenio.

"I'm the surgeon of the family and I met with another one of their doctors, we shared the available information and fully agreed on this diagnosis," he said.

Later in the week the Venezuelan press said that the physician was visited in Caracas by agents of the Venezuela's intelligence agency, which Navarrete confirmed in his letter.

"I want to show my face, but with the certainty that all the details will be evaluated fairly. To Col. Jose Alvarez Tineo [head of the Venezuela's intelligence agency], my most sincere apologies for not being able to fulfill what I promised the day of our meeting, later events forced me to abruptly leave the country with my family, something I did not want nor did I plan to do," he said.

"I am not a traitor to the homeland, the homeland is not the president, the homeland is all of us and in that all are included our children, family, friends and enemies," Navarrete said in the Caracas daily.

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