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Chavez set to return from Cuba

Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez said he plans to return home this week from Cuba and has been recovering smoothly after undergoing cancer surgery.

Mr Chavez spoke on television from Havana, accompanied by many of his Cabinet ministers in a pre-recorded appearance that resembled his regular Sunday television and radio programme.

"I should return in the coming days," Mr Chavez said, appearing upbeat and wearing a track suit emblazoned with the yellow, blue and red of Venezuela's flag. He added that he would undergo radiation therapy in the coming weeks.

He noted that two weeks have passed since his operation, saying he now has "completely normal vital parameters, a good general state of health, without any complication of any kind".

"Tests confirm and continue confirming my favourable clinical evolution," Mr Chavez said.

Mr Chavez said his surgery on February 26 in Cuba removed a tumour from the same location in the pelvic region where another tumour was removed in June.

The president described the most recent tumour as measuring about two centimetres across. He has declined to identify the precise location or type of cancer.

Mr Chavez referred to his health only briefly, instead focusing largely on government projects from subway expansion work to government-run farms and public housing projects. The programme seemed aimed at projecting a business-as-usual image of Mr Chavez at work.

The president spoke energetically while reviewing government projects, and paused for televised appearances by his vice president, who spoke from a chicken farm alongside Mr Chavez's brother in Venezuela, and his health minister, who appeared leading a tour of a Venezuelan hospital.

Health minister Eugenia Sader passed a microphone to a boy at one point in the tour, and the boy repeated a slogan that has been used frequently by the president's supporters recently: "Onward, Comandante."

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