Argentina's Fernandez to undergo cancer surgery
BUENOS AIRES - Reuters
A boy holds an image of Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez during a vigil outside the hospital where Fernandez will face surgery. AP photoArgentine President Cristina Fernandez will be operated on for thyroid cancer on Wednesday, her supporters having lined up outside the hospital since the night before with signs saying "Strength Cristina."
The government last week announced her diagnosis of papillary carcinoma, detected during a routine medical checkup just before Christmas. Doctors say the 58-year-old Fernandez has a better than 90 percent chance of recovery.
The diagnosis sparked sympathy in a country where Eva Peron, wife of former leader Juan Peron and known as Evita, is revered decades after dying of cancer at the age of 33.
Like Evita, Fernandez is loved for her efforts on behalf of Argentina's poor. Supporters, who rallied around Fernandez after the 2010 death of her husband and predecessor as president Nestor Kirchner, started congregating on Tuesday outside the hospital where the operation is scheduled for 8 a.m. (1100 GMT)
Wildly popular among Argentines who benefit from her generous welfare spending, the president often gets bad marks from business leaders who say her interventions in the economy frighten off investment.
She is one of several left-leaning Latin American leaders to have cancer. Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who underwent chemotherapy last year, speculated after the Fernandez diagnosis that the U.S. "empire" may have developed a way to give the illness to its political rivals.
Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo's lymphatic cancer is in remission and former Brazilian leader Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva is being successfully treated for a tumor on his larynx.