The Straits Times
Published on Oct 21, 2012

Campaigning during cancer recovery cost me votes: Chavez


CARACAS (AFP) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2011 and won re-election this month, on Saturday acknowledged that campaigning while in recovery cost him votes.

Mr Chavez said in a meeting shown on state television VTV that after radiation therapy, he had only done "10 per cent" of what he would have normally done on the campaign trail, adding he would have done more if he had been "fully fit".

The 58-year-old populist socialist leader, in power since 1999, won 55.26 per cent of the vote on Oct 7, against 44.13 per cent for challenger Henrique Capriles, a businessman and governor of Miranda state.

"If I had been ... fully fit, I would have beaten the (opposition) candidate by at least 20 per cent," boasted Mr Chavez, who was criticised by the opposition for keeping details of his illness close to the vest, and for seeking treatment in Cuba.