The ‘Monkey of the Andes’ returns to Venezuela
Chavez Returns to Venezuela
CARACAS—Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez made a surprise return home on Saturday after completing the first stage of chemotherapy in Cuba.
Mr. Chavez's arrival at Maiquetia airport outside Caracas was broadcast live on state television. The Venezuelan leader, who left for Havana a week ago, was greeted by government officials, including Vice President Elias Jaua.
"During the course of this week I have not lost focus on Venezuela for an instant," said Mr. Chavez, who has faced questions from critics on the legality of his continuing to govern from abroad while receiving cancer treatment.
The former army officer stopped briefly to chat with troops after disembarking and then gave a short address to the nation, updating Venezuelans on his health.
"I have kept my word. I have come better than when I left," said Mr. Chavez, who was noticeably thinner since his sudden departure last weekend for a second stint of medical treatment in Cuba since June.
The 56-year-old president stressed that his treatment was still continuing and added that he was advised to make that point clear by former Cuban leader and close ally Fidel Castro.
"It's a struggle that is hard and that takes time," Mr. Chavez said. "We are winning [the struggle], and we will win but it takes time and has its own pace."