VENEZUELAN PRESIDENT HUGO Chavez has appeared in public for the first time in three weeks today as he returned from Cuba after his latest cancer treatment.
Venezuelan state TV showed Chavez, who was re-elected in October, walking down the steps of his plane accompanied by vice president Nicolas Maduro, and he was seen speaking with officials at Maiquetia international airport.
Chavez said he was very happy to be back but did not elaborate on his health, the subject of intense speculation since he had a cancerous tumor removed last year.
Chavez had gone to Cuba on 27 November for sessions of hyperbaric oxygenation – the breathing of pure oxygen in a sealed and pressurized chamber. He canceled his appearance at Friday’s Mercosur summit in Brasilia.
The 58-year-old Chavez had a cancerous tumor removed from near his pelvic region last year, but the government never disclosed the type or severity of the cancer. In July this year, the president claimed to be cancer-free.
Chavez, who has been in power since 1999 and gained global prominence as an anti-American firebrand, appeared weak and subdued during the presidential campaign, but on 7 October he won a third term that extends to 2018.