Venezuela's Chavez reappears on Twitter from Cuba

Reuters, Friday 24 Jun 2011

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, not seen in public for two weeks, ended his unusual silence with several Twitter messages on Friday, but said nothing about his health after an operation in Cuba.

The reemergence of the loquacious leader on the social networking site will do little to squash speculation that his prolonged absence means he may be seriously ill.

Marking a public holiday that celebrates a victory in a battle against Spanish colonial forces in 1821, Chavez congratulated the armed forces and saluted all Venezuelans.

"Today is my army's day and the sun rose brilliantly! A huge hug to my soldiers and to my beloved people," he wrote from his Twitter account, @chavezcandanga.

"From here, I am with you in the hard work every day. Toward victory always! We are winning! We will win!"

Venezuela's defense minister said on Thursday that the president was stronger than ever but would not rush home until he was ready.

At the end of a regional tour on June 10, Chavez underwent an operation in Havana for a swelling in his pelvis and has been out of public sight since, except for one set of photos.

His absence has highlighted the socialist leader's total dominance of local politics and the lack of a clear successor.

The government originally said he would return "in a few day," but as time has gone by and Chavez has stayed in Cuba, rumors have swirled in Venezuela that the 56-year-old former soldier may have something worse like cancer.

Short link: