Cuban doctors have begun an operation on Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, his government announced on Tuesday. Information Minister Ernesto Villegas, reading a government statement on Venezuelan television, said the surgery is under way and Chavez has “absolute confidence he will overcome the obstacles that have emerged in the path of life.” Chavez said Saturday that “some malignant cells” had returned to an area from which tumors had earlier been removed. This will be Chavez’s third operation, after first undergoing surgery in June 2011 for a type of pelvic cancer. Chavez last visited Cuba on November 27 for hyperbaric oxygen treatment. Calling the relapse a “new battle,” Chavez designated Vice President Nicolas Maduro as his political successor should anything go wrong.