Chavez in surprise return to Venezuela

Venezuela President Hugo Chavez with his daughters, Maria Gabriela (left) and Rosa Virginia, in Cuba.

Venezuela President Hugo Chavez with his daughters, Maria Gabriela (left) and Rosa Virginia, in Cuba.

Mon, Feb 18, 2013, 00:00

President Hugo Chavez returned to Venezuela from Cuba today to continue treatment for cancer less than a week after the government released the first photos of him since December.

Mr Chavez thanked his doctors, Cuban president Raul Castro and his brother Fidel and God, according to his official Twitter account.

He landed in Venezuela at 2.30am local time and went to the Carlos Arvelo military hospital, Diosdado Cabello, the head of the national assembly, said on his Twitter account.

"We have returned to the Venezuelan nation," Mr Chavez said. "We will continue the treatment here."

The government released pictures of Mr Chavez in a hospital reading the Cuban Communist party Granma newspaper with two of his daughters last week, as information minister Ernesto Villegas said Mr Chavez is suffering from a "delicate" respiratory infection that does not allow him to speak and requires he use a tracheal tube.

Mr Chavez is in communication with cabinet members by writing and made the decision to devalue the currency this month, technology minister Jorge Arreaza, who is also his son-in-law, said.

"He's back, he's back, he's back," Mr Villegas wrote on his Twitter account.

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