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Tumor removed from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez

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CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - Doctors successfully extracted a tumor from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's pelvic region and he was stable and recovering Tuesday with family at his side, his vice president announced.

Tumor removed from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez

"President Chavez is in good physical condition," Vice President Elias Jaua told the main chamber of the National Assembly, prompting a standing ovation and cries of "Onward, comandante!"

"A total extraction of the diagnosed pelvic lesion was performed, removing also the tissue surrounding the lesion," Jaua said, reading a statement from the office of the presidency. "There were no complications."

Jaua did not say when Chavez had the surgery, but said the socialist leader was stable and recovering adequately. The Venezuelan president has said the growth was likely cancerous, but there was no immediate word on whether it was malignant.

"In the coming hours, the tissue studies that will determine the optimal treatment of the lesion will be available," Jaua added. "President Chavez thanks the Venezuelan people from the bottom of his heart for the warm companionship he has received."

Chavez, 57, announced last week that doctors in Cuba had found a new growth about one inch (two centimeters) in diameter in the same area where a baseball-size cancerous tumor was removed last summer.

He traveled to Cuba on Friday and said he would undergo tests over the weekend and have the operation early this week.

But until Tuesday there was no additional official word on Chavez's health, leaving the rumor mill free to churn unchallenged. Some reports speculated about a purportedly dire prognosis, but none could be confirmed or named their sources.

Venezuelan journalist Nelson Bocaranda, who is considered sympathetic to the anti-Chavez opposition and first broke the news last week that Chavez had again seen doctors in Cuba, said the president had been operated on Monday night.

There were no signs of stepped-up security Tuesday outside a Havana military hospital where many have speculated the surgery might take place, and patients came and went through the hospital doors as normal.

The parking lot outside the Cimeq facility was filled with vehicles sporting the green license plates of Cuba's Interior Ministry, but few diplomatic plates could be seen. Venezuelan Embassy vehicles all have black license plates beginning with the number 223, and none were present.

Cuba authorities often lay on extra police to protect important visitors, and even close off entire neighborhoods for high-level meetings. But traffic outside Cimeq was moving as normal on Tuesday.

Officials at the Venezuelan Embassy in Cuba have not returned numerous phone calls by the seeking comment over the past several days.

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