Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez denied media reports in the U.S. which claimed he was rushed to hospital earlier this week with kidney failure.
He told state-controlled television by telephone: I'm fine; I'm having my first coffee of the day. Those who don't love me and want me ill, well bad luck!”
Chavez added: Last night, I heard a group of people were spreading rumors. We must stop the speculation. I ask the Venezuelan people to ignore these rumors. If anything happened, I'd be the first person to tell you about any difficulty.
Chavez, 57, who has been in power since 1999, is undergoing treatments for cancer. He returned home to Caracas just a week ago after completing the fourth cycle of his chemotherapy in a hospital in Cuba.
A report in the Spanish-language El Nuevo Herald newspaper based in Miami, Fla., claimed Chavez had been taken to a military hospital near Caracas on Tuesday morning and placed into emergency care.
Andres Izarra, Venezuela's Information Minister, mocked the U.S. media reports by stating on his Twitter account: Those who should be admitted are the journalists of the Nuevo Herald, except into a madhouse [instead of a hospital].
Meanwhile, despite ongoing speculation about his health, Chavez said he is fully committed to running for (and winning) another six-year term as president in next October’s election. During his phone conversation with state TV, he blamed his political opponents for fanning rumors about his physical condition.
The rumors are part of their strategy, but they are going to founder against reality, he said.