Chavez back in Venezuela after Cuba treatment

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 7, 2012 at 5:20 pm •  Published: December 7, 2012
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"I would speculate that this is not directly related to the cancer process itself but maybe an infectious complication of pelvic radiation," said Astsaturov, an assistant professor at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. He said that such oxygen treatment "is used to treat infections but not tumors."

Throughout his treatments, Chavez has kept many details of his illness secret, including the type of cancer and the precise location of the tumors that were removed.

Chavez said his departure from Cuba had been delayed by a conversation with Fidel Castro, with whom he had been discussing poetry and reciting verses.

The Venezuelan leader also referred to the country's upcoming state gubernatorial elections Dec. 16, saying: "We're eight days away from the next victory."

The government launched a hashtag phrase on Twitter, "BienvenidoComandante," or Welcome Commander, which became a top trending topic in the country Friday morning.

During Chavez's absence, the government had announced that the president appointed new ambassadors in various countries, and he released a couple of written statements. But no messages have been posted on Chavez's Twitter account since Nov. 1.

The uncertainty sparked a rally in Venezuelan government bonds during the past week as investors speculated about the possibility that Chavez's health might be worsening. Bond prices dipped after the president's return. Even as bond prices declined by as much as two percentage points Friday, though, they were still trading about 10 percentage points higher than when Chavez abruptly announced his return to Cuba on Nov. 27, said Russell Dallen, a securities trader at Caracas Capital Markets.

Despite the lack of information about Chavez's condition, some say they think Venezuelans haven't seemed particularly concerned lately.

"The country has grown used to his prolonged disappearances," Venezuelan journalist Argelia Rios said in a column before Chavez's return that was published Friday in the newspaper El Universal. "What's striking ... isn't the absence of the head of state, but rather the lack of interest surrounding his lengthy retreat."

Chavez's opponents have called for him to be more forthcoming about his condition and release a full medical report.

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Associated Press writers Marco Sibaja in Brasilia and Fabiola Sanchez in Caracas and AP freelance video journalist Ricardo Nunes in Caracas contributed to this report.

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Ian James on Twitter: http://twitter.com/ianjamesap