Caracas: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez arrived back home in Caracas early today after 10 days of medical treatment in Cuba.
State television showed images of Chavez arriving at Caracas airport and walking down the steps of the presidential jet. Chavez was received by members of his Cabinet, including Vice President Nicolas Maduro.
Chavez traveled to Cuba on the night of November 27 after announcing plans to undergo hyperbaric oxygen treatment in Havana. The Venezuelan leader has spent much of the past 18 months fighting pelvic cancer; he said several months ago that he was cancer-free.
While in Cuba, he kept a low profile and did not speak on television. Chavez last appeared publicly during a televised meeting on November 15 in Caracas, and his long absence had renewed speculation among some Venezuelans that his health might be taking a turn for the worse.
But Chavez appeared vigorous as he spoke on television at the airport. He didn`t refer to his health, and focused instead on his gladness at being back.
"Very happy, as you all can see, to be here again," Chavez said. "Very happy."
Chavez noted that yesterday marked two months since his October 7 re-election win. Addressing Maduro and recalling other election victories, Chavez said: "Look at how we`ve come, Nicolas, from victory to victory."
Chavez hasn`t given details recently about the hyperbaric oxygen treatment, during which patients breathe pure oxygen while in a pressurized, sealed chamber. The treatment`s value is well-established for treating burns and some other medical conditions, and to aid wound healing and help repair bone and tissue damaged by radiation treatments.
The 58-year-old president first underwent cancer surgery in Cuba in June 2011 and suffered a relapse in February. He has also undergone chemotherapy and radiation treatments, and has since said that he`s recovered.
Throughout his treatments, Chavez has kept many details of his illness secret, including the type of cancer and the precise location of the tumors.