CARACAS – President Hugo Chavez, who remains hospitalized in Cuba more than three weeks after undergoing his fourth cancer surgery in 18 months, will soon return to Venezuela, his deputy said Thursday.
“Sooner than later we will see the comandante Hugo Chavez here in his homeland, here with us,” Vice President Nicolas Maduro said hours after he and other top officials returned to Caracas from Havana.
Chavez “is conscious of all the circumstances he is experiencing, which are difficult experiences,” Maduro said.
“He has a fighting spirit as always, with his usual strength, with his usual energy, with his confidence and certainty, and that is what he has told us to convey to his people,” the vice president said.
The only transition going on in Venezuela is the one toward socialism, Maduro said earlier Thursday.
Amid intensifying speculation about Chavez’s condition, the U.S. State Department said Wednesday that it expects Caracas to pursue a transition consistent with the Venezuelan Constitution should the president become unable to perform his duties.
“Here there is a single transition and it began at least six years ago and it was decreed by President Hugo Chavez as comandante of the Bolivarian Revolution,” Maduro said. “Today we have an economy in transition toward socialism.”
Chavez, who took office in 1999, was re-elected in October to another six-year term.
The 58-year-old president was first diagnosed with cancer after complaining of pain in his pelvic region during a June 2011 official visit to Cuba. Since then, the former paratrooper has undergone four surgical procedures and courses of chemotherapy and radiation. EFE