Chavez plans return home from Cuba this week following surgery

By Ian James ,AP

CARACAS — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Sunday that he plans to return home this week from Cuba and has been recovering smoothly after undergoing cancer surgery. Chavez spoke on television from Havana, accompanied by many of his Cabinet ministers in a prerecorded appearance that resembled his regular Sunday television and radio program. “I should return in the coming days,” Chavez said, appearing upbeat and wearing a track suit emblazoned with the yellow, blue and red of Venezuela’s flag. He added that he would undergo radiation therapy in the coming weeks. He noted that two weeks have passed since his operation, saying he now has “completely normal vital parameters, a good general state of health, without any complication of any kind.” “Tests confirm and continue confirming my favorable clinical evolution,” Chavez said. Chavez has said his Feb. 26 surgery in Cuba removed a tumor measuring about 2 centimeters (0.8 inches) from the same location in the pelvic region where another tumor was extracted in June. He has declined to identify the precise location or type of cancer. The president paraphrased German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche as he borrowed a metaphor to describe his cancer struggle, calling it “my longest and steepest hike.”

Chavez referred to his health only briefly, instead focusing on government projects from subway expansion work to public housing complexes. The program seemed aimed at projecting a business-as-usual image of the president at work. Chavez spoke energetically while signing documents to approve spending. He paused for televised appearances by his vice president, who spoke from a government-run chicken farm alongside Chavez’s brother in Venezuela, and his health minister, who appeared leading a tour of a Venezuelan hospital. In the hospital, Health Minister Eugenia Sader passed the microphone to a boy, who repeated a slogan that has been used frequently by the president’s supporters: “Onward, Comandante.” The program was recorded earlier Sunday and lasted more than two hours. In his typical style, Chavez flipped through a book on socialism, laughed with his aides and briefly broke into song. He also read aloud a get-well note sent to him by a young girl. “I promise you I will keep getting better,” Chavez said.