Chavez returns to Venezuela

(posted Feb. 18, 9:00 a.m.)- After more than two months in Cuba recovering from his fourth and most complicated cancer surgery, Venezuela’s bedridden President Hugo Chávez was returned to his country early this morning under the cover of darkness—only to announce his return on Twitter at 3 a.m.

“We have returned to the Venezuelan motherland. Thanks to my God!! Thanks to loving people. Here we will continue treatment,” tweeted Chávez, who is reportedly unable to speak since his surgery.

Chávez sent two more tweets after that, thanking the Castro brothers in Cuba, the people of Venezuela, his doctors and Jesus Christ. “We will live, we will overcome!” the ailing Venezuelan leader tweeted. It was the first time Chávez, who is a big fan of Twitter, has used his Twitter account since Nov. 1, before heading into surgery in Cuba.

Chávez had not been heard from or seen by his countrymen until photos released last weekend, picturing a smiling but visibly weakened president lying in bed next to his daughters. In the photos, Chávez appeared to be unable to lift his head off the pillow.

Rumors of Chávez’s ability to resume the presidency have been swirling for months, and became even more heated after he missed his own inauguration last month, sparking what some consider a constitutional crisis in the South American oil-rich nation.

Due to his weakened and bedridden condition, Chávez was sneaked into the country at 2:30 a.m. this morning, unannounced and unseen. His return has reportedly promoted thousands of Venezuelans into the street, and begins the next chapter in the uncertain future of Chávez’s regime. The Venezuelan strongman will be treated in the Military Hospital in Caracas, Venezuelan media reports.

In Nicaragua, President Daniel Ortega—one of Chávez’s closest allies and biggest beneficiaries of Venezuelan oil aid—has not yet commented on his comrade’s return.



  • Shanna Carson

    Signs of a power vacuum are evident, according to some analysts, which may be a reason for Chavez’s return despite the chance that his cancer treatment and recovery in Cuba were not complete.

  • George Harris

    I must point out a picture of Chavez in his hospital bed would be far less mis-leading than that of a healthy looking leader embracing Ortega. Chavez is most likely not going to recover and has returned to his homeland for palliative care. Nicaragua could lose a very good friend.

  • Brian

    I wondered about that photo as well, Tim. I’m sure its very difficult to impossible to get a photo of Chavez as he looks now but the photo you chose is a bit misleading. I say this with all due respect.

    • Tim Rogers

      The caption clearly states that the photo was taken in 2007–nothing misleading about that. Chavez hasn’t been seen in public for more than two months, and until last weekend there were no photos of him at all. That is why El Pais got so confused a few weeks ago and published a photo of some other guy in a hospital bed and said it was Chavez, which is misleading. There are a few recent photos of Chavez posing with his daughters, which were printed in Venezuelan media last weekend. But ND doesn’t reprint photos without permission.

      • Brian

        My humblest apologies, Tim … Its just that the picture took me aback for a second until I realized that Chavez certainly is not out doing photo ops with Ortega right now. I would not have posted what I did had not the previous poster mentioned it. I certainly would never accuse you of intentionally misleading your loyal readers … You are a treasure to us all.

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