Hugo Chavez, who is seeking to be re-elected as a president of Venezuela in October, has said last week that he prays constantly to God to "allow him finish his mission on earth."
"I ask God, I tell Christ, my Lord, through prayer: I believe I haven't finished my mission on this earth…Here is my country, and I ask him for health and life among you to finish my mission on earth, to finish my mission on this country, consolidating the independence and democratic, Bolivarian socialism," he said.
Chavez, 58, who has reportedly had at least three surgeries related to pelvic cancer, has been Venezuela's president since 1999. If Chavez wins the election later this year it would be his fourth presidential term.
In spite of Venezuela's economic and social issues, including its spiraling murder rate and inflation, recent polls show that Chavez has a lead over his strongest opposition candidate, Henrique Capriles Radonski.
However, whether his popularity can be maintained through October is yet to be seen. He has received a firestorm of criticism over recent times that he has allegedly created a corrupt government.
According to a report by the non-profit Humans Rights Watch, during Chavez's term in office "the accumulation of power in the executive, the removal of institutional safeguards, and the erosion of human rights guarantees have given the Chavez government free rein to intimidate, censor and prosecute Venezuelans who criticize the president or thwart his political agenda."
A few years ago, Chavez was condemned by local and international media for shutting down 34 radio stations and censoring 200 others, threatening to remove their licenses and accusing them of "abusing their right of freedom of speech."
Carlos Correa, director of the non-government organization "Espacio Publico," said at that time that the actions by Chavez amounted to the "greatest restriction to freedom of speech that Venezuela had ever suffered," and was unprecedented in democratic times in the country.