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Chavez returns to Cuba for cancer treatment

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez shows a copy of a new labor law he just signed during a T.V. broadcast in Caracas, Venezuela, April 30. 2012.
AP Photo/Miraflores Presidential Office

(CBS/AP) CARACAS, Venezuela - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez announced that he was returning to Cuba for the "home stretch" of his cancer treatment.

Chavez left for Havana on Monday night but said he would be back in a matter of days, and hoped that within weeks he would be able to be out "traveling around the beloved streets of my homeland, the beloved countryside of Venezuela."

The president has been undergoing treatment since a surgery in Cuba last June that removed a tumor from his pelvic region. He has been receiving radiation therapy after a second surgery that removed a tumor from the same area in February.

"They aren't easy days, but we're a warrior for facing adversity, and with faith in God and Christ the Redeemer, and with that immense love of the Venezuelan people and with this will to live, to fight ... we'll get through this," Chavez said.

Chavez raised the issue during a speech at the presidential palace and signed a new labor law that among various changes shortens the official work week in Venezuela from 44 to 40 hours.

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Chavez also said that his government should pull out of the Organization of American States' human rights body, accusing it of acting in concert with the U.S. government.

Chavez said in a televised speech that he's asking a newly created Council of State to take up his proposal to immediately withdraw from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. The Washington-based commission has repeatedly been critical of the human rights situation in Venezuela.

"We should have pulled out of that commission" already, the president said. He had previously expressed an interest in withdrawing from the rights commission in 2010.

He called the rights body a "sword of Damocles" and accused the U.S. government of using it to attack his socialist-oriented government.

His remarks drew criticism from human rights activists as well as his political opponents.

Opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles called the idea of withdrawing from the rights body irresponsible.

Human rights activist Liliana Ortega, who leads the organization Cofavic, said it would be a major setback for Venezuela to pull out of the commission.

"With this decision, no one wins. The government loses a lot obviously. A decision like this reaffirms that there is a situation of indifference and complete inattention to human rights," Ortega said.