First photos of Chavez released in two months

By: admin
Updated: 16 Feb 2013 03:17 AM

The Venezuelan government has released the first photographs of President
Hugo Chavez since December 10, the day before he underwent a fourth
operation in Cuba for the cancer he has been battling for 20 months.

Science minister Jorge Arreaza, the president's son-in-law, displayed the
images on Friday during a national television appearance.

Chavez, clad in a Venezuelan military academy warm-up suit, is seen lying
in a Havana hospital bed reading the February 14 edition of Cuban
Communist Party daily Granma.

The 58-year-old president, his face slightly swollen, is smiling as his
two adult daughters stand on either side of the bed.

The pictures were taken on Thursday night, Arreaza said after
communication minister Ernesto Villegas relayed the latest medical
bulletin from Havana.

Though the respiratory infection that developed after the December 11
surgery is under control, Chavez still needs a tracheal tube to assist his
breathing and the tube makes it difficult for him to speak, Villegas said.

Even so, the minister said, Chavez "is conscious, with his intellectual
functions intact, in close communication with his government team and
dealing with the fundamental tasks inherent to his office".

The leftist head of state was first diagnosed with cancer in his pelvic
area during a June 2011 official visit to Cuba. Since then, he has
submitted to four operations and courses of chemotherapy and radiation.

In office since 1999, Chavez was re-elected last October and is due to
serve until January 2019.