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  • 18 February 2013, 17:31

Hugo Chavez Returns Home After Cancer Surgery

President Hugo Chavez has returned home to Venezuela after more than two months of medical treatment following cancer surgery.

Mr Chavez's return from Cuba was announced in a series of messages on his Twitter account.

He said: "We have arrived again to the Venezuelan motherland. Thank you, God. Thank you, my beloved people. We will continue my treatment here."

The 58-year-old, who has been in power for more than 14 years, was first diagnosed with cancer in 2011.

After surgery and treatment he declared himself free of the disease and went on to win another term in elections last October.

But he suffered a relapse, and after the latest surgery in December in Cuba he was still too sick to come back to Venezuela for his scheduled inauguration on January 10.

The inauguration has been postponed indefinitely, and Vice President Nicolas Maduro has been running Venezuela in Mr Chavez's absence.

Opposition parties insist Mr Chavez's term ended on January 10 and that if he cannot start a new one in person, an interim president should be named pending a decision on whether he should be declared incapacitated, in which case a new election would be called quickly.

But throughout his illness, the firebrand leftist leader has refused to relinquish power, and the National Assembly had voted to grant him unlimited leave to undergo medical treatment outside of the country.

Mr Maduro said Mr Chavez will continue his treatment at the Carlos Arvelo Military Hospital in Caracas.

Mr Chavez also thanked Fidel and Raul Castro, who have overseen his treatment in Cuba, and thanked his country's people "for so much love".

He underwent his fourth cancer-related surgery on December 11, and the government says that he is now breathing through a tracheal tube that makes talking difficult.

Mr Chavez has said he has had tumours removed from his pelvic region and has undergone chemotherapy and radiation treatment.

The government has never said where Chavez's cancer is located or how serious it was or is.

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