Leader's former doctor: Chavez has less than two years to live

Hugo Chavez, who has been undergoing intensive chemotherapy treatment in Cuba for cancer, has less than two years to live according to his former personal physician.

Fox News:

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez likely has less than two years to live, his former doctor said, as the ailing firebrand traveled to Cuba for a checkup following cancer treatment.

Chavez, 57, has been through four rounds of chemotherapy in Cuba since revealing he had a cancerous tumor removed in June. But Venezuela has provided few details about the exact nature of the cancer, aside from that it was in the pelvic area.

Salvador Navarrete, his former personal surgeon, told Mexican newspaper Milenio Semanal on Sunday that the leader's condition likely was worse than publicly admitted.

The doctor described the prognosis as "not good." He added, "When I say this, I mean that he has no more than two years to live."

Navarrete said Chavez likely was suffering from either a tumor in his pelvis or a sarcoma, which would explain the intensive course of treatment.

Meanwhile, AT contributor David Paulin reports:

This -- if true -- echoes comments by Roger F. Noriega -- assistant secretary of state under George W. Bush from 2001-2003 and a former diplomat -- in a Miami Herald Op-Ed some weeks ago. He said sources close to Chavez's medical team had told whom that Chavez "has only a 50 percent chance of living another 18 months." It also seems to echo comments published in a Spanish newspaper a few weeks back, based on medical info the paper obtained.

David also reports on an interview in a Mexican newspaper with the same doctor who claims that Chavez is suffering from bi-polar disorder:

The doctor says that Chavez is a manic-depressive with bipolar disorder. Of course, this would explain the speeches lasting three to six hours -- while he's on his high. (It's not just a matter of a narcissistic personality disorder; it has psychological underpinnings.) The physician was called in after the aborted coup against Chavez, during which he was in poor mental shape. The reason for a Mexican physician: Chavez felt it was safer to deal with a non-Venezuelan physician, because he didn't want word getting out about his health in Venezuela, something more likely to happen with a Venezuelan physician in politically polarized Venezuela.

A post-Chavez Venezuela is going to be very chaotic, and perhaps bloody, unless Chavez designates a successor who enjoys broad support within his party. Even then, opposition could come from the military who have shown signs over the years of being very unhappy with the dictator's reliance on Cuba for security and military advice.

A coup is not likely, given the loyalty of the rank and file to Chavez. But many analysts believe that anyone who takes control of Veneuzuela after Chavez is gone will almost certainly be an improvement.