Chávez expected to return to Venezuela from cancer treatment in Cuba

Wed, Jan 23, 2013, 00:00

A brother of Hugo Chávez says he expects him to return home from Cuba soon, in what is the latest sign of official confidence that Venezuela’s president is recovering from cancer surgery last month.

Argenis Chávez said yesterday his older brother was recovering from a respiratory infection following surgery on December 11th. The decision on returning to Venezuela was in the hands of his medical team but he expected him home in the “coming days”.

Bolivia’s president and close Chávez ally Evo Morales told his country’s legislative assembly yesterday that he had spoken with Havana on Monday and been told that Mr Chávez “is already receiving physiotherapy in order to return to his country”.

This is in stark contrast to calls earlier this month for supporters to pray as rumours of his imminent death spread.

Mounting confidence

In another sign of mounting confidence that Mr Chávez is improving, Venezuela’s new foreign minister Elías Jaua took to Twitter on Monday to say he had met Mr Chávez in Havana and that they had “shared jokes and laughed”.

Mr Jaua said he was taking decisions about Venezuela’s participation in this weekend’s summit between the EU and the Community of Latin American and Caribbean Nations.

It follows Sunday’s guardedly optimistic declarations by Venezuela’s vice-president Nicolás Maduro that Mr Chávez was moving from the post-operative stage of his recovery to a “new phase of treatment”.

Mr Maduro acknowledged that Mr Chávez’s treatment had resulted in “anguished stages” but he was now fully conscious and “with ever more vital force” for the next stage of his treatment.

Mr Chávez had a tumour removed from his pelvic region in June 2011 and has undergone several procedures since in his battle against the unspecified cancer.

His failure to attend his own inauguration for a new six-year term on January 10th heightened rumours that he was gravely ill.

Prolonged absence

Mr Chávez has not been seen or heard in public since leaving Caracas and has not posted on his hugely popular Twitter account. Despite his prolonged absence, his government has been eager to give the impression that he is still in charge to avoid the need to call new elections.