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First post-surgery photos of Chavez shown

Feb. 16, 2013 at 1:08 PM

HAVANA, Feb. 16 (UPI) -- The first images of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez since his cancer surgery in Cuba have been broadcast by the government, officials say.

Chavez is shown with a tracheal tube as he reads the newspaper surrounded by his two daughters, the BBC reported Friday.

The 58-year-old ruler has not been seen since Dec. 11, when he went to Havana for surgery. It was his fourth operation in 18 months.

The government was quick to release photos of Chavez after his previous surgeries.

The photos were taken Thursday night, the government said.

The tracheal tube made it impossible for Chavez to speak, but he was writing down orders, said Information Minister Ernesto Villegas.

Vice President Nicolas Maduro said Wednesday the president's most recent surgery had been "extremely complex and tough."

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