A tearful Hugo Chavez has prayed for God to spare his life as he attended a pre-Easter mass on returning from cancer treatment in Cuba.
The Venezuelan President wept in a televised speech from the Catholic service in his home state of Barinas. His voice broke as he eulogised Jesus, the revolutionary fighter Che Guevara and the South American independence hero Simon Bolivar.
“Give me your crown, Jesus. Give me your cross, your thorns so that I may bleed. But give me life, because I have more to do for this country and these people. Do not take me yet,” Chavez said, standing below an image of Jesus with the crucifix.
Chavez said he had held faith that his cancer would not return after his first two operations last year — which removed a baseball sized tumour from his pelvis — but it did.
“Today I have more faith than yesterday,” he said. “Life has been a hurricane ... but a couple of years ago my life began to become not my own any more. Who said the path of revolution would be easy?”
Very little is known about the 57-year-old President’s condition, including even what type of cancer he has. Chavez has undergone three operations in less than a year and received two sessions of radiotherapy.
He has said the latest surgery was successful, that he is recovering well and will be fit to win a new six-year term at an election in October. But big questions remain about his future and on Thursday the strain appeared to show.
“I could not avoid some tears,” the former soldier said.