Chavez is up and walking, says Vice President
Caracas: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is recuperating fast and is up and walking after undergoing a cancer surgery in Cuba, Vice President Nicolas Maduro informed late on Monday night.
Maduro made the remarks after having a telephonic conversation with the President.
Chavez underwent surgery on December 11 and since then, it is the first time that a top government official has confirmed speaking personally with Chavez.
Maduro told state television station Venezolana de Television that the Christmas Eve conversation lasted about 20 minutes. He said the President was walking and doing some recovery exercises. He added that Chavez had given him guidance on budgetary matters for 2013.
"He was in a good mood," Maduro said. "He was walking, he was exercising."
"He wants to send a hug from the comandante to all the girls and boys in the country who will soon be receiving a visit from baby Jesus," he added. Venezuelan tradition has it that baby Jesus delivers gifts to children on Christmas, along with Santa Claus.
Maduro's surprise announcement came after Chavez's ally, Bolivian President Evo Morales, made a lightning visit to Cuba that had added to the uncertainty surrounding the Venezuelan leader's condition.
Morales was largely silent on Monday on the details of his trip or even whether he met with the ailing Venezuelan leader.