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Argentina's Kirchner has cancer, will have surgery

28 december 2011, 14:59
Argentina's President Fernandez de Kirchner. ©RIA NOVOSTI
Argentina's President Fernandez de Kirchner. ©RIA NOVOSTI
Argentina's President Cristina Kirchner has been diagnosed with thyroid cancer and will undergo surgery on January 4, her spokesman said Tuesday in a statement, AFP reports.

Kirchner, who was sworn in for a second four-year term earlier this month, 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, adding the cancer had not metastasized. Tests carried out Tuesday showed the cancer had not spread to Kirchner's lymph nodes, he added.

The 58-year-old Kirchner was expected to spend 72 hours in hospital, and then spend three weeks recovering from the surgery, he said. During that time, her vice president Amado Boudou will carry out her duties.

Kirchner was re-elected October 23 with more than 54 percent of the vote, a single 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 the first speech of her new term on December 10, when she was sworn in, Kirchner outlined her plans to Congress, sticking to policies of support for 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 amid 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, 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 October 27 last year aged 60 while the couple were resting 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.

The lawyer by training is known for her heavy make-up and long auburn hair.

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.

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