Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez returned to his home country Monday after spending two months in medical care in Cuba, recovering from cancer surgery.
Chavez sent out three tweets Monday morning to announce he was back in Venezuela.
“We have come back to the country of Venezuela. Thank God! Thank you dear people! Here, we will continue the treatment,” he said in one tweet, translated from Spanish. The tweets were the first messages to appear on his Twitter account since early November.
Chavez pledged that he would move Venezuela “ever onward to victory,” using similar rhetoric as in campaign speeches, before adding, “We will live and overcome!”
While he was being treated in Cuba, there was speculation that he would not be able to take office or meet his responsibilities as head of state. The opposition had contended that if the ailing leader was unable to attend his inauguration ceremony in mid-January, another election would be needed. But the country’s highest court ruled that Chavez could swear in at a later date. In the interim, Vice President Nicolas Maduro served as acting head of state.
Before last week, Chavez has not been heard from or seen since Dec. 11. Reports had said Chavez was on death’s door, while others said he had lost the ability to speak while recovering in Cuba.
In his final tweet Monday, Chavez said, “I’m still clinging to … [the] trust in my doctors and nurses. Until victory forever! We shall live and conquer!”
The Venezuelan Information Ministry said Chavez arrived in Venezuela at 2:30 a.m., and was met with a crowd of supporters.
Minister of Popular Power for Science and Technology Jorge Arreaza said Chavez would continue treatment at a hospital in Caracas. There was no new information on his current state of health.
Venezuela’s main opposition leader, Henrique Capriles, who squared off with Chavez during a heated election campaign, greeted the president’s return. “Welcome to Venezuela,” he said on his Twitter account.
He added that he hoped that Chavez would “return sanity” to the current government, saying that “there are thousands of problems to solve” in Venezuela. “I hope his return will bring some sense to the government,” Capriles said in another tweet. “Let us hope his return is permanent.”
Chavez has been battling cancer since at least June 2011. But the administration has never said what type of cancer he has or what organs may be affected, only that it is located in his pelvic region. He has undergone several surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation.
His surprise trip home was not shown on television. This is somewhat unusual because Chavez has remained the dominant figure in Venezuelan politics for more than a decade. However, a grinning, bedridden Chavez—his face appearing somewhat swollen—and his two daughters were shown on Venezuelan television Friday.
As Chavez’s medical treatment in Cuba continued, opposition members demanded proof that he was still alive and said he was not capable of leading the oil-rich country. They accused the government of lacking transparency for not giving concrete evidence.
“A few days ago, these liars said they spoke with [President Chavez], now say they he cannot talk! They poke fun at their own people,” wrote Capriles last week.
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