Supporters keep vigil as Argentine president prepares for cancer surgery
SUPPORTERS of Argentine President Cristina Fernandez were planning a long night's vigil ahead of her surgery for thyroid cancer.
They plan to start gathering at 1 am Wednesday in the capital's Plaza de Mayo and outside the Hospital Austral, as well as at other public squares around the country - and to stay until she is out of surgery.
Mrs 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, her spokesman Alfredo Scoccimarro said last week.
The 58-year-old, who is to be hospitalized for three days, plans to remain on leave from her official duties until January 24. Vice President Amado Boudou will assume her presidential duties in the interim.
Security has been stepped up at the private Hospital Austral, with staff postponing appointments for those who do not require urgent care.
Mrs 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. She was sworn in for her second term last month.
Doctors have said Mrs Kirchner - who spent the New Year's holiday with her two children - is likely to make a full recovery and soon return to work.
"The prospects are excellent and one would not expect any further growth of the tumor after the operation," said Mario Bruno, an oncologist and a member of the Argentina Association of Cancer.
Mrs 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.
Mr Chavez last week speculated that the United States could have developed a "technology to induce cancer" in Latin American leaders, without offering any evidence that such technology existed.