With a tweet thanking God and declaring onwards to victory, Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez arrived home from Cuba yesterday, to the delighted of his supporters.
“It’s fabulous news, the best thing possible,” said Chávez ’s cousin, Guillermo Frias. “Venezuela was waiting for him . . . Welcome home! Thank God he’s back!”
Fireworks were set off in some Caracas neighbourhoods as news spread and celebrations began among Chávistas, as his most fervent supporters are known. Government ministers were jubilant with one singing “He’s back, he’s back!” live on state TV.
They asked Chávez ’s euphoric supporters to respect the peace of patients at the military hospital, near a hillside shanty-town. Soldiers guarded the installation, while supporters chanted, “We are Chávez !” and “He’s back, he’s back!” At one point, medical staff asked them to quieten down.
The 58-year-old socialist leader’s homecoming in the middle of the night two months after cancer surgery in Cuba implies some medical improvement – at least enough to handle a flight of several hours.
Chávez could simply be hoping to quieten political tensions and smooth a transition to vice-president Nicolas Maduro, whom he has urged voters to back should he have to stand down and a new presidential election is held.
“We have arrived back in the Venezuelan fatherland. Thanks, my God! Thanks, my beloved people! Here we will continue the treatment,” Chávez tweeted after flying in.