Hugo Chavez is alive and well and the Venezuelan government has the photos to prove it.
Venezuela's Minister of Communication and Information, Ernesto Villegas Poljak, announced Friday that President Chavez was recovering and breathing through a tracheal tube, in the first official statement government officials have made regarding the president since he underwent his latest cancer surgery on Dec. 11 in Cuba.
"After two months of a complicated post-operative process, the patient remains conscious, with his intellectual functions intact, in close communication with his government team," Villegas said on television.
Villegas' speech was complemented by the unveiling of four photos that serve as the ailing President's proof of life. In the pictures, Chavez is all smiles as he's laying in bed accompanied by his daughters Rosa and Maria Gabriela. Some of the photos show the President looking at Thursday's issue of the Cuban Communist Party newspaper Granma.
The government released the photos amid widespread speculation about Chavez' condition following his 68-day absence from his presidential duties. The president had not been seen or heard of since he traveled to Cuba in December.
Villegas explained that Chavez' breathing conditions arose after surgery, although a certain grade of breathing insufficiency persists.
"Given that circumstance, which is being duly treated, Comandante Chavez is currently breathing through a tracheal cannula, which temporarily hinders speech," Villegas said.
The minister added that Cuban doctors were applying vigorous treatment to his fundamental illness and expressed he was very grateful for the love and care showed by Cuban leaders Raul and Fidel Castro.
"We trust... that Comandante Chavez will overcome these delicate circumstances sooner rather than later to accompany his nation in the path to new victories," Villegas said while closing his statement, adding, "Viva Chavez!"
The 58-year-old president has been undergoing cancer treatment in Cuba since he was diagnosed in June 2011.