Hugo Chavez Back To His Old Self After Cancer Treatments
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez - battling cancer, succession speculation and tough economic times - is proving himself anything but down and out.
Despite earlier surgery to remove a tumor from his pelvic area and scheduled chemotherapy treatment in Cuba, Chavez sounded his old self this week as he and the country marked his 57th birthday.
"I'm like the phoenix, I've returned to life," he said in a telephone call to state-run television.
"I'm halfway through my life, another 57 years are coming!" he added later and then danced a little on a balcony at the presidential palace in Caracas for supporters below.
"Next year, we will win the presidential elections once again! Strength, unity!"
Chavez was first elected in 1999 and immediately began a series of populist reforms to transform the country into a socialist state. Foreign-owned oil interests have been nationalized, land-reform has been introduced and worker councils and cooperatives established, UPI.com reports.
Flamboyant in personality and speech, he - like his hero and friend, Fidel Castro - is fond of balconies, long speeches and railing against the Great Imperialist, the United States.
It was no surprise that when he vanished from public view early last month without explanation, anxiety ran through the ranks of supporters. When the public was told he was in Cuba and had had a cancerous growth removed from his pelvis, prayer vigils were convened and supporters as well as foes speculated on the future.
"Hey, Adan, you look well-shaven, dressed up," Hugo Chavez joked in a television link up with his brother, news reports said. "I can see you're preparing for the succession."