Chavez’s health ‘encouraging’ but no return date set: official
Published : 2013-01-23 20:27
Updated : 2013-01-23 20:27
CARACAS (AFP) ― Ailing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has no scheduled date to return home from Cuba despite an “encouraging” report about his health, Communications Minister Ernesto Villegas said Tuesday.
Villegas said the report on Chavez’s health by his son-in-law, Technology Minister Jorge Arreaza, “has been very encouraging.”
But speaking after a cabinet meeting, Villegas added: “No date is set for his (Chavez’s) return yet.”
Earlier Tuesday, Bolivia’s President Evo Morales said Chavez was in physical therapy preparing for his return from Cuba, where he has been convalescing following his fourth round of cancer surgery last month.
The Venezuelan leader has not been seen since Dec. 10, but in recent days officials have said his health has improved despite complications from the surgery.
Villegas said the president “is attentive to the developments in Venezuela,” and said Chavez had exchanged impressions on the situation in the country on Monday with Foreign Minister Elias Jaua.
“He has been in very good spirits, he shared jokes with the foreign minister,” he said. His remarks echoed a message on Jaua’s Twitter account Monday which said: “We shared some jokes and laughed.”
“He made decisions on our participation in the CELAC Summit. So happy we are moving forward,” added Jaua, referring to an upcoming summit of Latin American and Caribbean States this week in the Chilean capital Santiago.
The Venezuelan government has been releasing only meager information about the condition of Chavez, a 58-year-old former paratrooper who first came to power in the oil-rich country in 1999 and won another six-year term in October.
The charismatic and bombastic figurehead of the region’s anti-American left could not attend his scheduled inauguration on January 10 because of his poor health, and his swearing-in ceremony has been postponed indefinitely.
Aides and family members have had to tamp down speculation that Chavez might not make a full recovery. He has yet to be seen in public, or address Venezuelans since leaving the country. He remains, presumably, in a Havana hospital.
Venezuela has the largest proven oil reserves in the world, allowing Chavez to project power across the region. Top ally Cuba -- the Americas’ only Communist nation -- receives massive support from Caracas.