Bat out of hell -Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez receives hero’s welcome

Hugo Chavez Returns

Newscast Media CARACAS, Venezuela — Following his return from Cuba where he underwent surgery for cancer, Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez addressed thousands of supporters on a Monday. Venezuelans celebrated independence from Spanish rule Tuesday, but Chavez did not attend the celebrations because his
doctors advise him against exposing himself to three hours of the hot sun.

An emotional crowd turned out to the presidential palace in Caracas, singing their national anthem throughout, expressing joy and relief that the president was back home.

Chavez, 56, addressed the large crowd waving the Venezuelan flag saying, “To my beloved people, to my beloved soldiers, to my beloved country: Here I am recuperated, but still in recovery,” he said in the brief statement.

“We are no longer a colony of any empire and we never will be again, thanks to God, the people, and our soldiers,” Chavez said.

“Long live Venezuela! Long live the Venezuelan people! Long live life! And of Latin America! Long live Fidel [Castro]! Long live Cuba! Long live life! And long live Chavez!”

The President had been in Cuba since 8 July where he underwent emergency surgery for the removal of a cancerous growth, although his government at first tried to play down the seriousness of his illness.

Chavez’s sudden unexpected arrival Monday appeared to be his attempt to put any speculation to rest.

Chavez has been elected three times since 1999 and survived an aborted coup by the military in 2002. He has already announced his intention to run for another term in 2012.