Caracas, Dec 8 (IANS/EFE) Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez returned to his country after nine days of treatment in Cuba as part of his process of recovery from cancer, which has had him in the operating room three times since June 2011.
"I'm happy to be back again," Chavez said upon arrival at Maiquetia airport near Caracas Friday in a conversation with ministers who went to greet him, an occasion broadcast on state television channel VTV.
Looking swollen and wearing the military academy exercise togs he normally puts on during his treatments, Chavez said he was feeling "in good spirits" in his first words to the public since Nov 15.
"It's been two months since our victory in October, but yesterday we complete 14 years since our victory on Dec 6 of '98, and we're eight days from our next victory," he said, the latter being a reference to the upcoming regional elections on Dec 16.
On the airport runway, Chavez, who arrived with his daughters, spoke with some of his Cabinet and leaders of the governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela, or PSUV, to whom he said that he has been "reading reports" and watching the progress of the regional campaign, in which he sees "a great deal of motivation".
The president also mentioned a conversation he had with Cuban leader Fidel Castro, in which they talked about poetry.
Chavez arrived in Cuba Nov 27 to undergo a new treatment of hyperbaric oxygenation and physical therapy, as he explained at the time in a letter, six months after having finished radiation therapy.
The Venezuelan president has been operated three times since June of last year, when a cancer was detected in his pelvic region, whose exact location and seriousness have never been officially revealed.