Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez returned home early Thursday after 11 days of cancer treatment in Cuba, putting an end to ongoing rumors of his death.
Chavez did not make any public statements upon his arrival, though he was seen talking with his vice-president and other government officials in the capital Caracas Thursday morning.
Prior to his arrival, Chavez posted a message on his Twitter account.
On the plane! All of us very happy because we are heading back to our beloved Venezuela! Greetings from Fidel and Raul! And from all of Cuba! Long live Venezuela! the message said, translated from Spanish.
Chavez, 57, had previously responded to rumors of his death, telephoning Venezuela state TV Monday.
It seems we will have to become accustomed to live with these rumors, because it is part of the laboratories of psychological war, of dirty war, he said in the phone call, Reuters reported.
The political climate in Venezuela is tense, as the health of its president of 13 years hangs in the balance. Presidential elections are scheduled forOctober, and the Socialist leader has indicated that he intends to run for another six-year term, his third, in addition to his first which lasted two years before the constitution was reformed and new elections were held in 2000.
Chavez and his political allies have accused opposition leaders of perpetuating rumors about the president's health.
The truth is that these embittered people don't learn, said Diosdado Cabello, president of the National Assembly and close Chavez, Reuters reported. They've been saying for days that the Comandante died.
Opposition candidate Henrique Capriles has criticized Chavez for not keeping the public informed about his illness.
Chavez confirmed in late June last year that he had received cancer treatment, after returning from Cuba. Although there is no information about what type of tumor he has, he is believed to have been diagnosed with colon cancer.
Since confirmation of his illness, Chavez has traveled back and forth between Venezuela and Cuba for treatment. The Venezuela head of state is expected to return to Cuba to undergo further treatment after several days.
Capriles added further criticism, saying the sick leader has been trying to run the country through Twitter from his hospital bed in Havana.
Governing by Twitter, approving laws by Twitter without consulting anybody, is an insult to our people. The country's problems cannot be resolved by Twitter, Capriles said, Reuters reported.
Capriles, governor of the Venezuelan state of Miranda, presents the most plausible challenge to Chavez in the upcoming elections, though Chavez still remains widely popular among the poorer Venezuelans.
Ryan Villarreal reports on foreign affairs with a focus on Latin America. He also covers human rights and environmental issues worldwide....