|Hopefully we will soon be free, free, totally free of the Marxist cancer of Hugo Chavez|
CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Monday declared himself fully recovered from cancer and ready to return to the streets for his re-election campaign ahead of an October vote.
"Free, free, totally free," an ebullient Chavez told reporters when asked if he was free of the disease that struck a year ago.
The 57-year-old socialist leader, who has dominated the South American OPEC member since taking power in 1999, was first diagnosed with cancer in the pelvic region in the middle of last year.
He wrongly declared himself cured at the end of 2011 and suffered a recurrence of the disease in February.
But after three operations in a year and repeated cycles of treatment in Cuba and Venezuela, Chavez is once again declaring himself fully fit at a crucial time when his health is the main wild card before the October 7 presidential vote.
Despite his optimism, doctors say it is impossible to be sure someone is completely cured of cancer until at least a couple of years have passed since the last recurrence.
Perceptions of Chavez's ability to campaign for the election, and govern afterwards, may play a decisive role in what could be one of Venezuela's tightest elections of recent times.