Ailing Chavez returns to Venezuela from Cuba
CARACAS: President Hugo Chavez returned to Venezuela early Monday after more than two months of treatment in Cuba following cancer surgery, his government said, and his supporters staged upbeat street celebrations to welcome him home while he remained out of sight at Caracas’ military hospital.
Chavez’s return was announced in a series of three messages on his Twitter account, the first of them reading: ”We’ve arrived once again in our Venezuelan homeland. Thank you, my God!! Thank you, beloved nation!! We will continue our treatment here.”
They were the first messages to appear on Chavez’s Twitter account since Nov. 1.
”I’m clinging to Christ and trusting in my doctors and nurses,” Chavez said in another tweet. ”Onward toward victory always!! We will live and we will triumph!!”
Vice President Nicolas Maduro said on television that Chavez arrived at 2:30 a.m. and was taken to the Dr. Carlos Arvelo Military Hospital in Caracas, where he will continue his treatment.
Chavez’s announced return to Caracas came less than three days after the government released the first photos of the president in more than two months, showing images of him looking bloated and smiling alongside his daughters. The government didn’t release any images of Chavez upon his arrival in Caracas.
Maduro said he had accompanied the president on the trip, along with Chavez’s daughter Rosa, his brother Adan and National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello.
The vice president said that Chavez has been in a ”continuous battle” and that additional details will be provided about his condition later.
Hundreds of Chavez supporters celebrated his return in downtown Caracas, chanting his name and holding photos of the president in Bolivar Plaza. A man holding a megaphone boomed: ”Our commander has returned!”
Supporters also celebrated outside the hospital, where a sign atop the building is adorned with a photo of Chavez. They held up a flag and a poster showing the president, and chanted: ”We’re all Chavez!”
Chavez’s precise condition and the sort of cancer treatments he is undergoing remain a mystery, and speculation has grown recently that he may not be able to stay on as president.