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Chavez returns to Venezuela after surgery in Cuba

(Xinhua)

12:44, March 17, 2012

Image provided by Venezuela's presidential press office shows Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (R, front) and his brother Adan Chavez (L, front) before departure for Venezuela from the Jose Marti International Airport in Havana, Cuba, March 16, 2012. Hugo Chavez has returned home Friday night nearly three weeks after undergoing a cancer surgery in Cuba. (Xinhua/Venezuela's presidential press office)

CARACAS, March 16 (Xinhua) -- Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez has returned home Friday night nearly three weeks after undergoing a cancer surgery in Cuba.

Earlier in the day, in a message published on Twitter, Chavez said he was in Havana's airport and Cuban leader Raul Castro came to see him off.

"Good afternoon, good world! We are right now departing from the Jose Marti International Airport heading south, heading the Great Motherland! Thank you, my God!," said Chavez in the message.

On Feb. 26, Chavez underwent another operation to remove a tumor from the same place in the pelvic region where another tumor was removed in June 2011.

Chavez has repeated that his recovery is being smooth, optimistically saying that he was ready to participate in the October's presidential elections in Venezuela.

The type of cancer that Chavez is suffering has not been specified, but officials in Caracas denied the rumors that the cancer has spread.

After the first tumor was removed, also in an operation in Havana, Chavez has undergone four rounds of chemotherapy. In February, he announced that he needed another surgery to remove a new 2-centimeter lesion in the same location of the first tumor.

Chavez, 57, said days ago he plans to undergo a radiation therapy treatment, but he didn't specify when the new treatment will begin.

As the Venezuelan leader continues to fight against cancer, questions have been raised about whether he will be able to contest the presidential elections.

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