Venezuelan government: Hugo Chavez recovering

January 22, 2013 - 7:32 PM
Venezuela Chavez

A pedestrian walks before a stenciled graffiti that reads in Spanish: "I am Chavez," in downtown Caracas, Venezuela, Thursday, Jan. 17, 2013. Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, normally at the center of national attention, is so ill following a fourth cancer surgery in Cuba that he has made no broadcast statement in more than a month, and has not appeared in a single photo. During Chavez's five-week absence, some Venezuelans have begun speculating about whether his cancer could force him from office and require a new presidential election. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is in good spirits and recovering six weeks after he underwent cancer surgery in Cuba, his government said Tuesday in a continuation of more upbeat assessments of the leader's fragile health.

Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said officials received a "very encouraging" report Tuesday about the president's condition from Jorge Arreaza, Chavez's son-in-law and science minister.

Villegas said after a Cabinet meeting that there was still no date set for Chavez's return to Venezuela. The president underwent his fourth cancer-related operation in Havana on Dec. 11 and hasn't appeared or spoken publicly since.

The government has said the 58-year-old president is improving after suffering complications including a severe respiratory infection.

Chavez is showing strength during a "hard, complex" struggle, Villegas said.

"He's attentive to the development of events in Venezuela," he said, adding that when Foreign Minister Elias Jaua met with Chavez in Cuba on Monday, the president was in "very good spirits." Jaua said Monday on Twitter that he had shared jokes with Chavez.

Vice President Nicolas Maduro said Tuesday there had been "important advancements in the post-operative recovery process of President Chavez, which motivates us, which fills us with happiness."

Addressing the president as if he were watching the televised event, Maduro said: "You, commander Chavez, stay disciplined and calm. There's no rush. Calm. What's important is that you recover with quality."

Maduro spoke during a visit to a factory that assembles laptops the government provides to low-income children. The vice president said the government will continue to pursue a socialist-oriented plan that was drawn up ahead of Chavez's re-election victory in October.

In Bolivia on Tuesday, President Evo Morales said in remarks to the National Assembly that his ally Chavez "is now receiving physical therapy" so that he can return home. Morales said he expects to see the Venezuelan president attending "international events" soon but didn't specify which events.

Chavez has undergone repeated surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation treatments since June 2011 for an undisclosed type of pelvic cancer. The government has provided regular updates about Chavez's condition but hasn't given specifics about the location of the tumors that have been previously removed or what procedures were performed during the latest surgery.

No photographs of Chavez have been released since he arrived in Cuba, and some government opponents have been asking why the president has not addressed the country by phone as he did during previous treatments in Havana.