(posted Feb. 18, 9:00 a.m.)- After more than two months in Cuba recovering from his fourth and most complicated cancer surgery, Venezuela’s bedridden President Hugo Chávez was returned to his country early this morning under the cover of darkness—only to announce his return on Twitter at 3 a.m.
“We have returned to the Venezuelan motherland. Thanks to my God!! Thanks to loving people. Here we will continue treatment,” tweeted Chávez, who is reportedly unable to speak since his surgery.
Chávez sent two more tweets after that, thanking the Castro brothers in Cuba, the people of Venezuela, his doctors and Jesus Christ. “We will live, we will overcome!” the ailing Venezuelan leader tweeted. It was the first time Chávez, who is a big fan of Twitter, has used his Twitter account since Nov. 1, before heading into surgery in Cuba.
Chávez had not been heard from or seen by his countrymen until photos released last weekend, picturing a smiling but visibly weakened president lying in bed next to his daughters. In the photos, Chávez appeared to be unable to lift his head off the pillow.
Rumors of Chávez’s ability to resume the presidency have been swirling for months, and became even more heated after he missed his own inauguration last month, sparking what some consider a constitutional crisis in the South American oil-rich nation.
Due to his weakened and bedridden condition, Chávez was sneaked into the country at 2:30 a.m. this morning, unannounced and unseen. His return has reportedly promoted thousands of Venezuelans into the street, and begins the next chapter in the uncertain future of Chávez’s regime. The Venezuelan strongman will be treated in the Military Hospital in Caracas, Venezuelan media reports.
In Nicaragua, President Daniel Ortega—one of Chávez’s closest allies and biggest beneficiaries of Venezuelan oil aid—has not yet commented on his comrade’s return.