Venezuela's Chavez in therapy, eyes return: Bolivia's president

Tue Jan 22, 2013 3:54pm EST
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By Carlos Quiroga and Diego Ore

LA PAZ/CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez is undergoing physical therapy to hasten his return from Cuba after surgery there last month for the cancer jeopardizing his 14-year rule, Bolivian President Evo Morales said on Tuesday.

The comments by Morales, a fellow leftist and close friend of Chavez, added to positive signals from Venezuelan officials that the president was improving and may be able to return from Cuba, where he had surgery on December 11.

He has not been seen or heard from in public since then.

"I communicated with Cuba and, brothers and sisters, we have good news about our brother, President Hugo Chavez. He is already undergoing physical therapy to return to his country," Morales said in a speech to parliament in La Paz.

"Latin American leaders like Fidel (Castro) and Hugo Chavez are very much needed at international events, and I'm certain that soon we will be (together again) at presidential summits," Morales added, without giving more details.

There were rumors around New Year's Day that the socialist Chavez, 58, was on life support. They have given way in the past few days to speculation he may soon return to Venezuela.

Local media reports have said a military hospital in Caracas is being prepared to receive Chavez.

In the absence of detailed medical information, Venezuelans are debating whether Chavez may be able to recover well enough to continue governing or whether he wants to come home to smooth a handover of power or simply to say farewell.   Continued...

Bolivia's President Evo Morales speaks during an interview with journalists at the presidential residence in La Paz January 13, 2013. Picture taken January 13. REUTERS/David Mercado (BOLIVIA - Tags: POLITICS)