Argentina's Kirchner has cancer, will have surgery
BUENOS AIRES - Agence France-Presse
Argentina's reelected President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner gestures during her inauguration ceremony. AFP photoArgentina's President Cristina Kirchner has been diagnosed with thyroid cancer and will undergo surgery next week, two months after being reelected in a landslide vote, her spokesman said.
Kirchner, the country's first elected female president, was found to have cancer "on the right lobe of the thyroid gland" during a routine medical examination on December 22, said spokesman Alfredo Scoccimarro.
"The illness has been contained," Scoccimarro emphasized in a statement, adding the cancer had not metastasized. Tests carried out Tuesday showed the cancer had also not spread to Kirchner's lymph nodes, he added.
The 58-year-old Kirchner was expected to spend 72 hours in hospital and then three weeks recovering from the surgery, he said. During that time, her vice president Amado Boudou will carry out her duties.
"The prospects [for recovery] are excellent, and no one should expect any further development of the tumor after the operation," oncologist Marco Bruno, a member of the Argentina Cancer Association, told local television.
He added that because the tumor had been diagnosed early it could be safely removed, allowing the patient to lead a normal life.
Kirchner was re-elected in October with more than 54 percent of the vote, a first-round landslide that buried her nearest competitors and won her back control of Congress.
The win, a year after her husband and predecessor's sudden death, was powered by a slew of popular social programs and years of strong, virtually uninterrupted economic growth.
In her swearing-in speech on December 10, Kirchner outlined her plans to Congress, sticking to policies supporting domestic industries and consumer spending despite the economic storm clouds over Europe.
"This situation in Europe is the mirror image of that of Argentina in 2001," she said, referring to the near-collapse of the Argentine economy in a crisis that led it to default on more than $100 billion in debt.
Nestor Kirchner, who was president between 2003 and 2007, is credited with rescuing Argentina by breaking with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), restructuring the debt and promoting spending.
As president, Nestor co-governed with his wife, and when Cristina was elected at the end of 2007, Nestor was a top advisor.
He died of a heart attack on Oct. 27 of last year at the age of 60, while the couple were on vacation at their resort home in southern Argentina.
Kirchner -- who was forced to stop working three times this year due to a drop in her blood pressure -- has built up an image as a black-clad widow, both fragile and authoritarian, seductive and abrupt.
A lawyer by training, she is known for her heavy make-up and long auburn hair, and is a political heir to Eva Duarte Peron -- better known as Evita -- the glamorous and populist wife of three-time president Juan Peron.
Like the Perons of the 1940s, the Kirchners won over many of Argentina's poor districts with generous public spending.
Kirchner is one of several Latin American leaders to suffer from cancer in recent years.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff and Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo have all waged battles against the disease and say they are now cancer-free.
Former Brazilian president Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva was diagnosed with throat cancer in late October and has undergone chemotherapy treatments.