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Chavez flies back to Venezuela

President Hugo Chavez has made a surprise return to Venezuela from Cuba , saying he was recovering from surgery that removed a cancerous tumour.

State television showed the video of Chavez arriving about 2am local time on Monday. The station did not air it until a little after five hours later.

"I'm fine. I'm happy," Mr Chavez said after stepping off the plane. "A perfect landing."

He hugged his vice president, Elias Jaua, and his elder brother, Adan.

In a phone interview later, the president told state television he was having breakfast. "I'm devouring everything," he said.

Mr Chavez said he spent "very difficult days" in Cuba but that his recovery was going well. "It's the beginning of my return!"

Cuban president Raul Castro saw him on to the plane as he departed during the night from Havana.

Mr Chavez arrived a day before the 200th anniversary of Venezuela's declaration of independence from Spain.

He had been in Cuba since June 8 for what ostensibly was a previously scheduled visit. Doctors said he underwent an initial surgery on June 11 to have a pelvic abscess removed and then a follow-up surgery to remove a cancerous "abscessed tumour" from his pelvic region.

Mr Chavez announced the second surgery last Thursday after 18 days out of sight. Neither he nor doctors gave details about what kind of cancer it is or what treatment he was receiving.


From Belfast Telegraph