Hugo Chavez: Cancer-Stricken President Makes Surprise Return To Venezuela

After more than two months technically leading his country from overseas, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez made a surprise return trip home.

Details remain sketchy, but he announced his reappearance early Monday through an announcement on his Twitter account. He had been receiving medical treatment in Cuba as he recuperated from surgery.

Through Twitter, Chávez announced he would continue his medical recovery in Venezuela.

I'm clinging to Christ and trusting in my doctors and nurses.

- Hugo Chávez, President of Venezuela

"We've arrived once again in our Venezuelan homeland. Thank you, my God!!" the first of the three messages said.

They were the first messages to appear on Chávez's Twitter account since Nov. 1.

"I'm clinging to Christ and trusting in my doctors and nurses," Chávez exclaimed in another tweet. "Onward toward victory always!! We will live and we will triumph!!"

Vice President Nicolas Maduro said on television that Chávez at arrived at 2:30 a.m. and was taken to the Carlos Arvelo Military Hospital in Caracas, where he will continue treatment.

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

Chávez's return to Caracas came less than three days after the government released the first photos of the president in more than two months, showing images of him smiling alongside his daughters. 

The government didn't release any images of Chávez upon his arrival in Caracas.

"We're very happy," Maduro said. He said he had accompanied the president on the trip, along with Chávez's daughter Rosa, his brother Adan and National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello.

The vice president said that Chávez has been in a "continuous battle" and that additional details will be provided about his condition later.

The government didn't offer an explanation as to why Chávez made his surprise return on Monday. Government officials have in recent weeks said that it wasn't clear when the president's medical team would allow him to return to Venezuela, though they had said they hoped it would be soon.

After the announcement of his return, state television played upbeat music from last year's presidential campaign, repeating the lyrics, "Chávez, heart of the nation!"

The 58-year-old president hasn't spoken publicly since he left for Cuba on Dec. 10. He underwent his fourth cancer-related surgery on Dec. 11, and the government says that he is now breathing through a tracheal tube that makes talking difficult.

Chávez is also undergoing other treatments that have not been specified.

He received cancer treatment in Cuba on-and-off since June 2011. Chávez has said he had tumors removed from his pelvic region and has undergone chemotherapy and radiation treatment.

Throughout the treatments, Chávez has not revealed the type of cancer or the exact location of the tumors.

Chávez was re-elected to a new six-year term in October, and his inauguration had been scheduled for Jan. 10 but was indefinitely postponed by lawmakers due to his condition after the surgery, which the government has described as delicate.

Before leaving for Cuba, Chávez acknowledged there were risks and said that if his illness prevented him from staying on as president, Vice President Maduro should run in a new election to take his place.

Maduro has traveled repeatedly to Havana in recent weeks and has shown documents he said were signed by Chávez, insisting the president remains in charge. Last week, Maduro said Chávez is undergoing "extremely complex and tough" treatments, which he didn't specify.

Based on reporting by the Associated Press.

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