Hugo Chavez, the cancer-stricken president of Venezuela, has reportedly finished the first stage of chemotherapy in a Cuban hospital.

Chavez said he is now preparing for the second course of the treatment. In June, he reportedly had a tumorous growth excised in Cuba.

This first cycle has been completed successfully, he told Venezuelan state TV.

There are various cycles in this battle to finally defeat and eliminate any risk of the presence of malignant cells in this body, which is going to turn 57 years old.”

During the interview, he also vowed to remain in power.

I will live, I promise you. And we are headed for the great victory of 2012, he said.

Rumors of the status of the president’s health have swirled across the Caribbean, raising speculation over who would succeed him in Caracas.

Prior to departing for Havana on Saturday, Chavez invested some of his presidential powers to his government ministers.

Chavez, who has been in power for a dozen years, remains largely popular with Venezuela’s poor and working classes, but is vociferously opposed by the business elite. He has, in fact, refused demands by the opposition to hand over all his powers while tending to his medical issues.