Hugo Chavez returns to Venezuela from cancer surgery in Cuba


Supporters of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gather in Caracas to celebrate after Chavez announced on Twitter that he had returned to the country from Cuba.


Juan Baretto

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Hugo Chavez has returned to Venezuela following his cancer surgery in Cuba, with the president announcing his arrival on Twitter.

The tweet said:

"We have arrived again to the Venezuelan motherland. Thank you God. Thank you my beloved people. We will continue my treatment here."


It was the first message on Chavez's usually buzzing Twitter account since Nov. 1.

Chavez has not been heard or seen in public since leaving for Havana in December for a cancer operation.

Another tweet Monday on Chavez's official account said:

"I'm clinging to Christ and trusting in my doctors and nurses. Onward toward victory always!! We will live and we will triumph!!"

Chavez's son-in-law, Science and Technology Minister Jorge Arreaza, said he had been taken from the airport to a military hospital in Caracas.

The 58-year-old, diagnosed with an unspecified form of cancer in 2011, declared himself free of the disease after surgery and treatment in Cuba, and went on to win last October's elections.

Chavez's surprise return comes after his government released what it said were the first postoperative photos of the leader. The four images of Chavez grinning in a hospital bed, flanked by his two daughters and reading a Cuban newspaper, fueled his supporters' hopes but also agitated his opponents. 

Despite visuals of a happy "Comandante," government officials explained Chavez has to breathe through a tracheal tube that has made it very difficult for the normally garrulous leader to talk.

That's prompted Venezuelan opposition leaders to further question Chavez's ability to govern.