Venezuela's Chavez reappears on Twitter from Cuba

CARACAS Fri Jun 24, 2011 7:12pm EDT

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez speaks during a news conference in Tokyo April 7, 2009. REUTERS/Yuriko Nakao

Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez speaks during a news conference in Tokyo April 7, 2009.

Credit: Reuters/Yuriko Nakao

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, not seen in public for two weeks, ended his unusual silence with several Twitter messages on Friday, but said nothing about his health after an operation in Cuba.

The reemergence of the loquacious leader on the social networking site will do little to squash speculation that his prolonged absence means he may be seriously ill.

Marking a public holiday that celebrates a key military victory over Spanish colonial forces in 1821, Chavez congratulated the armed forces and saluted all Venezuelans.

"Today is my army's day and the sun rose brilliantly! A huge hug to my soldiers and to my beloved people," he wrote from his Twitter account, @chavezcandanga.

"From here, I am with you in the hard work every day. Toward victory always! We are winning! We will win!"

Venezuela's defense minister said on Thursday that the president was stronger than ever but would not rush home until he was ready.

Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro said on Friday that government officials were constantly in touch with Chavez, who remained firmly in control of the South American country.

"We have been in communication with him, in a permanent way. He is keeping himself informed of all the affairs of the country, in command," Maduro said in a televised speech.

"The battle President Hugo Chavez is waging for his health has to be, and is, everyone's battle, the battle for life."

Chavez underwent an operation in Havana for a swelling in his pelvis at the end of a regional tour on June 10 and has been out of public sight since, except for one set of photos.

His absence has highlighted the socialist leader's total dominance of local politics and the lack of a clear successor.

The government originally said he would return "in a few day," but as time has gone by and Chavez has stayed in Cuba, rumors have swirled in Venezuela that the 56-year-old former soldier may have something worse like cancer.

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