Cuban leaders visit convalescing Chavez

AFP, Saturday 3 Mar 2012

Officials reveal a visit by the Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro and the President Raul Castro, his brother, to the Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez who is undergoing a surgery in Havana

A woman walks past a mural depicting Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (L) and former Cuban leader Fidel Castro in Caracas February 23, 2012. (Photo: Reuters)

Top Cuban leaders have paid a visit to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who is convalescing at a hospital in the island-nation following surgery this week, officials said.

Venezuelan Information Minister Andres Izarra said Chavez had been visited Friday by Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro and his brother Raul Castro, the country's president.

"Fidel visited Chavez in Havana this afternoon," Izarra said in a Twitter message. "They talked for about two hours. Raul joined them later."

The information minister also released pictures showing Chavez in an animated conversation with Fidel Castro and walking on the hospital grounds alongside his doctors.

Chavez, who is running for a third term as president, underwent surgery this week in Havana for what he called a "lesion" in the same area around the pelvis where a tumor was extracted in June 2011.

The government has released no details about his condition.

Chavez declared himself cancer-free last October, before announcing on February 21 that a small potentially malignant lesion had been discovered.

Venezuelan officials have never specified the kind of cancer Chavez is suffering from, but they have denied the disease has spread to other organs.

Chavez, a leftist firebrand leader who has been in power since 1999, faces a strong challenge from 39-year-old Henrique Capriles, who was chosen as the sole opposition candidate in elections later this year.

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