Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chávez, has returned to Caracas following
surgery in Cuba. Photograph: Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters
Venezuela’s showman president Hugo Chávez made a dramatic return home yesterday, addressing thousands of ecstatic supporters in Caracas with the battle-cry: “The return has begun”.
Hordes of Chávez supporters had flocked onto the streets outside the city’s Miraflores Palace to welcome back their leader, following his surprise return from Cuba in the early hours of Monday.
At just after 5.35pm local time a sea of red-clad supporters erupted in cheers and applause as Chávez stepped out onto the Palace’s “balcón del pueblo” or “people’s balcony” wearing a red beret and green army uniform.
Hoisting his country’s red, blue and yellow flag into the air, Chávez launched into a rendition of the Venezuelan national anthem before shouting: “Viva Venezuela! Viva the Bolivarian Revolution! Viva the Venezuelan People… Viva life! Viva Chávez!”
“We will win this battle for life, for the fatherland and for the revolution,” Chávez told thousands of flag-waving supporters, speaking just days after admitting he was being treated for cancer in Cuba.
“We will overcome all of these difficulties,” he added from the iconic veranda, the setting for numerous key addresses since he came to power in 1999.
Chávez’s sudden return, nearly one month after he left the country, came on the eve of Venezuela’s independence celebrations that kick off on Tuesday.