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Chavez's health - the great unknown in Venezuela's election

The big unknown in Venezuela's upcoming election? Just how much President Hugo Chavez's health will be a factor. While the president has sought treatment in Cuba, few beyond his closest confidantes know just what type of cancer he has or the location of his tumors. And that's exactly how Chavez wants it. Addressing the issue before a trip to Havanna earlier this year, he had this to say. SOUNDBITE: President Hugo Chavez Saying (Spanish): "Chavez has not ended. I should say that when this body truly gives out, Chavez will never end because I am no longer Chavez. Chavez is in the streets and became the people and became a national essence. More than sentiment, Chavez became a national body, a national soul and a national weapon." Political analyst Jesse Chacon says it is no accident that the Venezuelan leader often looks like this (image of Chavez dancing) or like this (image of Chavez pumping his arm) when he is in public. SOUNDBITE:Political Analyst Jesse Chacon saying (Spanish): "While the public is used to seeing President Hugo Chavez every day, he isn't in public that often. I imagine it has to do with the effects of his chemotherapy. His appearances have been orchestrated so that they don't put the issue of his health in the public arena. It has been successful so far." Many Venezuelan doctors suspect Chavez has been using steroids and other treatments in order to appear keep up with the demands of campaigning. They also think the president's announcement earlier this year that he is cancer free is premature. And while Chavez's opponent Henrique Capriles argued earlier in the campaign, that the health of a head of state is a public matter, he hasn't brought the issue up in recent months. the fresh-faced opposition candidate side-stepped the issue, wishing Chavez a speedy recovery. Venezuelans head to the polls on Sunday.

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