01/23/13 - Chicago Tribune - Venezuela's Chavez in therapy, eyes return: Morales
He has not been seen or heard from in public since then.
"I communicated with Cuba and, brothers and sisters, we have good news
about our brother, President Hugo Chavez. He is already undergoing
physical therapy to return to his country," Morales said in a speech to
parliament in La Paz.
"Latin American leaders like Fidel (Castro) and Hugo Chavez are very much
needed at international events, and I'm certain that soon we will be
(together again) at presidential summits," Morales added, without giving
There were rumors around New Year's Day that the socialist Chavez, 58, was
on life support. They have given way in the past few days to speculation
he may soon return to Venezuela.
Local media reports have said a military hospital in Caracas is being
prepared to receive Chavez.
In the absence of detailed medical information, Venezuelans are debating
whether Chavez may be able to recover well enough to continue governing or
whether he wants to come home to smooth a handover of power or simply to
After Morales' comments, Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said no
return date was yet planned for Chavez.
Though still in a "difficult" and "complex" battle for his health, the
latest news from Havana was promising and Chavez was in "good spirits",
the minister said in comments carried live on TV after a cabinet meeting
"Commander Chavez is in Havana in the process of full re-establishment of
his health," Villegas said. "The (latest) report was very encouraging ...
There is no return date yet."
Before going to Cuba, Chavez named Vice President Nicolas Maduro, a former
bus driver who rose through the ranks to become one of Chavez's most
faithful allies, as his preferred successor should he be incapacitated.
Maduro would, though, have to win a new vote.
Morales and Venezuelan officials' comments suggest Chavez may have come
through some of the worst effects of his operation. The government had
acknowledged he suffered bleeding and a lung infection after surgery.
The disease was detected in his pelvic area in mid-2011.
Venezuela's foreign minister said on Monday that Chavez was laughing and
joking, as well as giving instructions again on government matters. But
speculation persists that the cancer may have metastasized and Chavez may
not have long to live.
Some opponents are skeptical, asking why Chavez cannot speak to the nation
if he can chat with ministers.
(Writing by Hilary Burke and Andrew Cawthorne; editing by Philip Barbara)
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