Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez broke a 12-day silence from Cuba, communicating through his Twitter account for the first time since he called a television station to talk about an operation he had on the island nation.
In a series of messages, Chavez spoke about how today is the anniversary of a key battle in Venezuela’s fight for independence 190 years ago and saluted his “soldiers and beloved people” from his “trench.”
“I’m here with you in this daily slog! Victory always! We are winning! And we will win!!” he wrote in one message.
Since Chavez, 56, underwent surgery for a pelvic abscess on June 10, a lack of official information has raised questions about the true state of his health and triggered debates about whether he should be running South America’s largest oil producer from Cuba.
Chavez last spoke in public on June 12, when he told Telesur television network by phone that he decided to seek treatment in Cuba, the final stop in a tour of allied governments in Latin America, after feeling pain in his abdomen while in Brazil and Ecuador.
Chavez’s first tweet in 20 days is unlikely to quash speculation that he may be suffering from a more serious condition than he has indicated, said Bret Rosen, a Latin America debt strategist with Standard Chartered Bank.
“The speculation won’t end until he’s back in the country and shows that he’s physically able to perform the tasks he has to perform as president,” Rosen said in a phone interview from New York. “For a leader that has such a high profile and is omnipresent in the media to be silent and out of the country for this long has fed speculation and rumors.”
Adan Chavez, the Venezuelan leader’s brother, said June 21 that the president would return to Venezuela by July 4, in time to attend celebrations marking 200 years of independence from Spanish rule. Chavez is also scheduled to host a Latin American leaders summit on Margarita Island on July 5.
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