Mérida, 18th February 2013 (Venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez returned to Venezuela in the early hours of this morning after over two months in Cuba recovering from cancer surgery.
“We’ve arrived once again to the Venezuelan Homeland. Thank you God! Thank you beloved people! We’ll continue treatment here,” announced Chavez on Twitter when he arrived in Caracas airport at 2.30am this Monday morning.
The Venezuelan head of state had been in Cuba recovering from an operation in the pelvic region undergone on 11 December, in what was his fourth cancer surgery in 18 months.
In another tweet Chavez also thanked the Castro brothers, Cuban president Raul and former president Fidel for their support, as well as his medical team, declaring, “We will live and we will overcome!”
Fidel Castro also wrote a letter to Chavez before his departure from Havana, in which he referred to the stage reached in the Venezuelan president’s recovery.
“A long and agonising wait, as well as your astonishing capacity for physical resistance and the total dedication of a team of doctors…were necessary to achieve this objective,” he wrote.
Upon arrival Chavez was taken to the Dr. Carlos Arvelo military hospital in Caracas, where he will continue treatment as part of his recovery.
On Friday the first images of Chavez since his operation were released, which showed the Venezuelan president smiling and reading, while an official statement confirmed that he temporarily had difficulty speaking due to having a tracheal tube in place for respiratory insufficiency.
This morning, Venezuelan communication minister Ernesto Villegas argued that the official information given on Chavez’s recovery had been vindicated as accurate against voices in international and Venezuelan private media which had sought to speculate on the president’s health.
“He’s back, he’s back, he’s back,” said Villegas in an interview on public channel VTV, continuing, “the ominous voices- those who were calling into question the information emitted by the national government with respect to Chavez’s health, are defeated”.
Villegas added that “intense mechanisms were activated to delegitimise, to call into question all of the information that was being given, including by echoing the most atrocious versions [of Chavez’s state of health]”.
The minister also said that Chavez “ordered at all times that the country was informed on the progress of his treatment,” and that the government had given 30 official updates on the president’s clinical progress during his stay in Cuba.
Venezuelan vice president Nicolas Maduro called on people to gather around the country to celebrate Chavez’s return.
By dawn a crowd had already gathered outside the Dr. Carlos Arvelo military hospital in Caracas to show their support for Chavez. By midday there were large gatherings in most of the country's main plazas.
Maduro also confirmed that the leadership of Chavez’s party, the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), would be meeting today to discuss the party’s political strategy in the new circumstances.