No date set for Chavez's return to Venezuela: Minister

Last Updated: Wed, Jan 23, 2013 05:50 hrs

Caracas, Jan 23 (IANS/EFE) No date has yet been announced for the return to Venezuela of President Hugo Chavez, who underwent surgery more than a month ago in Cuba, but he "has been in very good spirits", Communications Minister Ernesto Villegas said Tuesday.

The president's son-in-law, Science and Technology Minister Jorge Arreaza, gave the Council of Ministers a "very encouraging" report on the improving health of the president, Villegas said.

The 58-year-old Chavez went to Cuba Dec 10 to undergo his fourth operation for a cancer detected in mid-2011.

"The president is also following closely the way things are progressing in Venezuela," Villegas said, adding that the leader has fought a "tough, complex battle" with "strength and fortitude, both spiritual and physical" since his operation.

Since Dec 10, one day before the operation described as "complex" by the government, no photos or videos have been released showing the Venezuelan president, who did not attend the swearing-in ceremony Jan 10 to begin his 2013-19 term in office, due to the state of his health.

Bolivian President Evo Morales, meanwhile, said Tuesday that Chavez is receiving physical therapy so he can soon return home from Cuba.

"Yesterday they communicated with me from Cuba and we have good news: our brother comandante, President Hugo Chavez, is now doing physical therapy in order to return to his country," Morales said in La Paz as he began his state of the nation report at the start of his eighth year in office.



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