Questions swirl about Chavez health

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.  Towards 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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