Hugo Chavez arrives home in Venezuela after cancer treatment in Cuba

Thursday 05 April 2012 16.28
Hugo Chavez often receives medical care in Cuba
Hugo Chavez often receives medical care in Cuba

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has arrived home after his latest round of radiation treatment for cancer in Cuba.

"I am still in recovery.... Today I completed the second cycle and so far there has been no adverse reaction," he said as he stepped off the plane in the western town of Barinas shortly before midnight (4am Irish time).

He had been expected to return to Caracas but went to the capital of his birth state instead, where he was received by his parents, siblings and immediate family, as well as government officials and military personnel.

Mr Chavez, 57, had earlier tweeted about his departure from Cuba, writing: "Thanks Fidel! Thanks Raul! Thank You, Cuba! I will live, and I will win!"

The left-wing Venezuelan leader often receives medical care in Cuba, where he has long maintained close ties to Fidel Castro and his brother, President Raul Castro.

Venezuelan Vice-President Elias Jaua earlier said Mr Chavez had undergone daily radiation treatments in recent days in Cuba, and that the five-week cycle of radiation "has been a success."

Mr Chavez is ordinarily a near-constant presence in the national media, and his public absence since Saturday sparked a flurry of new rumours about his health, none of which have been independently confirmed.

The president, who is already in the midst of a tough re-election fight, is expected to continue his radiation treatment in Havana but return home for brief periods in between.

Mr Chavez completed the first and second rounds in Havana, where he had surgery last month to remove a malignant tumour in the same area where another tumour was excised in June 2011. Communist Cuba is Chavez's closest regional ally.

Officials in Caracas have never specified the type of cancer the president has, but insist it has not spread to other organs.

Mr Chavez is Latin America's most emblematic elected leftist leader whose government props up Havana's and helps other allies with subsidised fuel.

He faces a stiff challenge from 39-year-old state governor Henrique Capriles, who was chosen to represent a unified opposition in primaries earlier this year.

Some 18 million Venezuelans will be eligible to vote in October.

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