CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuela's government opened a new preschool Tuesday in the hometown of ailing President Hugo Chavez, who remained in Cuba receiving treatment seven weeks after undergoing cancer surgery.
Vice President Nicolas Maduro attended the inauguration of the preschool in the rural town of Sabaneta in the western state of Barinas. It is named "Mama Rosa," after the grandmother with whom Chavez and his brother, Adan, lived during their childhood.
Children sang in a classroom while Maduro toured the school along with Adan Chavez, who is the governor of western Barinas state.
Adan Chavez said the school was built on the land where the home of their grandmother with a palm-thatched roof once stood.
The president's mother and father also attended. Chavez's father, Hugo de los Reyes Chavez, said he hopes the president soon can return to Venezuela. Chavez hasn't been seen or spoken publicly since before his Dec. 11 cancer surgery in Havana.
Chavez last month designated the vice president to be his chosen successor if cancer were to force him from the presidency.
But Maduro expressed optimism that Chavez may soon be able to return to Venezuela, calling him "the commander of iron."
Maduro recalled meeting with Chavez in Havana last week. "He told us with great strength, 'I'm very optimistic. I trust fully in the treatments I'm doing. We will come back to win this one."