Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez returned home from Cuba after an 11-day absence for cancer treatment, saying his latest round of radiation therapy had ended successfully and he is very optimistic about his recovery.
“I should say that over these past several days we successfully concluded the entire cycle of radiation therapy just as the medical team had planned,” Chavez told the media after walking down the airplane steps Friday night at the Simon Bolivar International Airport, which serves Caracas.
Wearing the track suit that has become his regular attire on his medical trips to Cuba, Chavez said that “besides a few discomforts that are very normal in this treatment, absolutely nothing happened that forced it to be stopped, to suspend it or to alter the initial plan.”
Rumors had surfaced during his trip about possible complications during the treatment and there was even speculation that the president was unable to walk.
“I’m arriving and we’re arriving with great optimism that this treatment will produce the desired effects and always asking the Most High, our Lord God, Christ the Redeemer, to help us by continuing to give us the miracle of life, precisely so we can continue carrying out God’s commandments,” the socialist president said.
Chavez had left for Cuba on April 30 to continue the radiation treatment he began after undergoing surgery on Feb. 26 to have a second malignant tumor removed. The first tumor was extracted last June.
Both of those operations also took place on the Communist-ruled island, which has become Venezuela’s main ally under Chavez.
The loquacious Venezuelan president, who was largely silent during his latest stay in Havana except for various messages on Twitter, has said only that the cancer is located in his pelvic region but has not given details on its precise location or seriousness.
Chavez said after stepping off the plane and being greeted by Vice President Elias Jaua and other top officials that he is aware of “the permanent speculation by certain individuals, certain sectors that hurl all kinds of rumors” about his health.
He said he must recover from the impact of the treatment over the next few days and will “gradually” get back into the “first line of battle.”
“Now in this phase over the next few days I need to rigorously follow the medical instructions to continue recovering from the normal, expected effects of the full radiation treatment,” the president said.
“As the hours and the coming days pass, I’m sure ... I’ll be gradually getting back to where I should be in the first line of battle, along with the Venezuelan people, driving the socialist revolution, the revolution of peace, the revolution of love,” Chavez said.
Chavez, who later inspected a group of soldiers in formation on the runway and sang a popular Venezuelan song, also noted that he had arrived in time for Mother’s Day, which will be celebrated on Sunday in Venezuela.
The president, in office since 1999, will seek re-election once again in October when he faces off against opposition hopeful Henrique Capriles.
Chavez, who said the economy was performing well and that results will show strong GDP growth in the first quarter, lashed out at the political opposition and Capriles.
“Unfortunately the right seems spent, desperate, like those boxers who throw wild punches that don’t hit anything, while behind them they have a concealed hammer or knife,” he said.
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