President Hugo Chavez is back in Venezuela

Feb. 18, 2013 at 2:55 PM
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CARACAS, Venezuela, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- President Hugo Chavez returned home to Venezuela Monday, 10 weeks after leaving for cancer surgery in Cuba, the government television station VTV reported.

Chavez was taken to a military hospital in Caracas, VTV said.

"We come back to the country of Venezuela," Chavez posted on his official Twitter account after his return. "Thank God! Thank you dear people! Here we continue the treatment."

Chavez had not been seen or heard from much since he underwent surgery for cancer Dec. 11 in Cuba. Officials were criticized for giving vague, sometimes contradictory, updates about the president's health.

The government offered no information on the nature or location of Chavez' cancer, although it said the recent surgery, his fourth since 2011, was followed by complications that included bleeding and a lung infection.

On Friday, photos of Chavez and two of his three daughters were released by the government. The photos were taken Thursday evening at the Cuban hospital where he has been treated, officials said.

Venezuelan Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said Chavez was having difficulty speaking after a tracheal tube was inserted.

"Two months after a complicated post-surgery period, the patient remains conscious, fully intellectually aware, in thorough communication with his governing team and on top of the fundamental duties of his post," Villegas said.

Chavel was re-elected Oct. 7 but health problems prevented him from attending his Jan. 10 inauguration ceremony. His opponents said delaying the inauguration was unconstitutional, but the country's Supreme Court agreed with his party's argument that the president did not have to be at the swearing-in ceremony for his next term to begin.

Chavez's absences and the lack of information about his condition plunged Venezuela into increasing uncertainty, The New York Times said Monday.

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