Bolivian leader: Hugo Chavez's health improving

By the Associated Press | July 10, 2011 | 7:29 PM EDT

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez appears to have made it through his most difficult moments and is improving after undergoing surgery to remove a cancerous tumor, Bolivian leader Evo Morales said Sunday.

Morales, a close ally of Chavez who visited him in Caracas last week, remarked on the Venezuelan leader's health after attending Bolivia's soccer match against Colombia at the Copa America tournament in Argentina.

"He's very well, very well," Morales told Colombian radio station Caracol. "He has told us it was a very difficult situation for him, but he has survived the bad moment, the worst. As always, under the control of his doctors."

Likening the goal of Chavez's recovery to being like a new car, Morales said: "From here on, soon President Chavez will be at zero kilometers."

Chavez has said he underwent surgery in Cuba on June 20 to remove a cancerous tumor. His foreign minister said it was extracted from the same part of the "pelvic region" where Chavez had an abscess removed nine days earlier.

Chavez hasn't said what type of cancer is involved. Since his return to Chavez on July 4, he has slowed his normally heavy agenda and has limited the length of his televised speeches, saying he is under strict orders from his doctors.

Asked if Chavez appeared concerned or calm, Morales told Caracol: "No, calm, very calm. ... Strengthened."

After nearly three weeks of recovering from the surgery, Chavez "has gotten out of this situation," Morales said. "For that reason, I'm very happy after seeing President Chavez."

Morales met with Chavez during Venezuela's bicentennial celebrations last week, along with the presidents of Paraguay and Uruguay.