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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez walked without assistance down the stairs from his plane to announce that his radiation therapy in Cuba ended “successfully” and he is optimistic about the results.

Chavez spoke last night on state television from Caracas airport, saying he expects to gradually re-join the “revolution,” as he refers to his political agenda. Chavez arrived home after spending 11 days in Cuba receiving treatment for his undisclosed cancer.

Chavez, 57, arrived at around 10 p.m. in Caracas and was greeted when he left the plane by Vice President Elias Jaua and officials including Defense Minister Henry Rangel Silva and Interior and Justice Minister Tarek El Aissami. The one-time tank commander wore a blue and white tracksuit.

“We come with great optimism that this treatment will have the effects we aspire to, asking Christ to help us continue alongside all of you,” Chavez said.

The self-declared socialist, who has undergone three operations and several rounds of chemotherapy and radiation treatment since June, has insisted he can continue as his party’s candidate in an Oct. 7 election. His refusal to reveal what type of cancer he has, where it is located or its prognosis, has fueled speculation his health is worse than he’s letting on.
Widens Lead

Chavez, who seeks to extend his 13-year rule with another six-year term, has widened his lead over the opposition ahead of Venezuela’s October election, even as his battle with cancer forces him to spend more time receiving treatment in Cuba than campaigning at home.

Chavez had 43 percent of voter preferences compared with 26 percent for opponent Henrique Capriles Radonski, according to a Datanalisis poll taken between April 9 and 18. While support for Chavez was little changed from its March survey, backing for Capriles fell from 33 percent, Datanalisis said.

Since announcing Feb. 21 that he would require a third operation to remove a second malignant tumor, Chavez has spent about 56 days in Cuba.

“Long live Venezuela, long live the mother,” Chavez said after singing to the country’s mothers ahead of this weekend’s Mother’s Day.


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