Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's cancer operation in Cuba Tuesday was a success, his vice president said.

Vice President Nicolas Maduro, whom Chavez had designed as his successor for the first time, said the complex procedure had lasted more than six hours and the president would be recuperating for several days.

The 58-year-old socialist leader's third bout with cancer in the past 18 months has thrown his presidency into jeopardy and upended politics in the South American OPEC nation.

"Once again, our comandante has shown his strength," Maduro said in a broadcast on state television as members of the government alongside him applauded, Reuters reported.

"We want to thank the Venezuelan people for all the love they dedicated so this operation was completed correctly and successfully," said Maduro.

He said the post-operative phase would last several days. "We can say the president has beaten the first obstacle and now, with his medical team, he will go on recuperating."