Venezuela leader Hugo Chavez says he's "totally free" of cancer, ready to start re-election campaign

Venezuela's president Hugo Chavez speaks during a news conference, his first as presidential candidate of the United Socialist Party of Venezuela for the upcoming elections, in Caracas, Venezuela, July 9, 2012. AP Photo/Ariana Cubillos

(AP) CARACAS - President Hugo Chavez said Monday he's completely free of cancer and assured Venezuelans that physical limitations stemming from his recuperation will not affect his re-election campaign.

Speaking at a news conference, Chavez said he's "totally free" of cancer and plans to begin actively campaigning soon following months of radiation treatment, physical rehabilitation and medical exams.

"I feel in better physical condition every day," he said.

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Over the past 13 months, Chavez has undergone two surgeries that removed tumors from his pelvic region, most recently in February.

The socialist leader has not disclosed key details about his illness including the type of cancer that had been diagnosed.

Following his cancer treatment, Chavez has appeared in public less frequently, preferring to address Venezuelans during marathon speeches broadcast on television and radio.

Some had questioned the Venezuelan leader's ability to compete in the Oct. 7 election and rumors had circulated that he would name a successor.

Chavez called on his supporters to prepare for "an offensive," when he plans to start attending campaign rallies.

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