The Straits Times
Published on Feb 18, 2013

Venezuela's Chavez makes surprise return from Cuba


CARACAS (REUTERS) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez made a surprise return from Cuba on Monday, more than two months after surgery for cancer that threatens to end his 14-year rule of the South American Opec member.

The 58-year-old socialist leader underwent a six-hour operation in Cuba on Dec 11. He had not been seen or heard in public since then until photos were published of him on Friday.

"We have arrived back in the Venezuelan fatherland. Thanks, my God! Thanks, my beloved people! Here we will continue the treatment," Mr Chavez said via Twitter. Aides confirmed the news.

There had been speculation Mr Chavez was unwell enough to travel despite wanting to return to his homeland for continued treatment for the disease he was first diagnosed with in mid-2011. However, Vice-President Nicolas Maduro said Mr Chavez flew in from Havana and was in a military hospital in Caracas.