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Chavez recovering after surgery

  |   March 3, 2012 at 4:15 PM
HAVANA, March 3 (UPI) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is shown smiling and walking unaided in the first photos of him released since surgery for suspected recurrence of cancer.

Cuban media released the images Friday, which officials say were taken in the Havana hospital where he underwent surgery Monday, the BBC reported.

In a phone call to Venezuelan television, Chavez said: "I cannot neglect my recuperation treatment for even a minute. I continue recovering, thanks to Venezuela's support, the Cuban people, the doctors here in Cuba, to the love from the people that fills me.

"I'm taking flight, raising the fatherland of the future."

Cuban President Raul Castro and his brother Fidel, who has had his own serious health issues in recent years, have visited Chavez, the TV channel Univision reported Saturday.

There has been no official word on whether a lesion removed from his pelvic area was cancerous or when he would return from Havana.

Specifics about Chavez's illness have not been made public, which has led to rumors his health is worse than officials acknowledged.

He had surgery and four rounds of chemotherapy last year in Cuba after a growth the size of a baseball was found in his pelvic area, the BBC said.

Chavez is preparing to campaign for re-election.

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