Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez insisted Monday he is "totally" cancer-free a little more than a year since he first revealed his diagnosis and said he was ready to take on a re-election battle.
"Free, totally free," he said, when asked by a reporter if he had beaten the disease, as he gears up for the campaign against rival Henrique Capriles ahead of the October 7 vote.
"Thanks to God, I am here and every day, I feel in better physical condition, and I really don't think this expression 'physical restrictions'... will be a factor in the campaign," he told a news conference.
Chavez said he had worked "with a lot of discipline" in order to overcome cancer, adding that his last radiation treatment was two months ago.
Chavez has undergone surgery twice since June 2011 to remove cancerous tumors from his pelvis. The exact location and nature of the cancer has never been revealed.
The 57-year-old Venezuelan leader has once before boasted that he had fully recovered -- only to later admit he had suffered a recurrence of the cancer, and again sought treatment in Cuba.
He has undergone multiple rounds of chemotherapy and radiation therapy in Cuba following his surgeries.
Chavez, a leftist firebrand and frequent critic of the United States, has nevertheless pledged victory in his October 7 election showdown with unified opposition candidate Capriles, the youthful former governor of Miranda state.
Most opinion polls put Chavez firmly in the lead, but Capriles is counting on undecided voters -- estimated to be 35 percent of the electorate.
Capriles has claimed he will handily defeat Chavez, even predicting a 10-point margin of victory. He has vowed to tackle what he calls the country's three main problems -- poverty, unemployment and violence.
Chavez has been in power since 1999.© ANP/AFP