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Photos of Hugo Chavez shown after 2-month absence

This article was published February 15, 2013 at 11:15 a.m.

in-this-photo-released-friday-feb-15-2013-by-miraflores-presidential-press-office-venezuelas-president-hugo-chavez-center-poses-for-a-photo-with-his-daughters-maria-gabriela-left-and-rosa-virginia-at-an-unknown-location-in-havana-cuba-on-thursday-feb-14-2013

In this photo released Friday, Feb. 15, 2013, by Miraflores Presidential Press Office, Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, center, poses for a photo with his daughters, Maria Gabriela, left, and Rosa Virginia at an unknown location in Havana, Cuba, on Thursday, Feb. 14, 2013.

Venezuela’s government showed the first photos of ailing President Hugo Chavez in more than two months Friday, presenting images of him smiling alongside his daughters while also acknowledging that he is in a “delicate” state fighting cancer.

Chavez is propped up on what appears to be a bed in the photos, a blue pillow behind his head. His face appears puffy, but he is smiling broadly, while his daughters Rosa and Maria lean in close to him.

In other images, Chavez is shown looking at Thursday’s issue of the Cuban Communist Party newspaper Granma, his daughters still flanking him. The photos were shown on television by Chavez’s son-in-law, Science and Technology Minister Jorge Arreaza.

The government released the images amid widespread speculation and rumors in Venezuela about Chavez’s condition after his Dec. 11 cancer surgery.

Chavez hasn’t been seen or directly heard from since he left for Cuba on Dec. 10, in contrast with previous stays for medical treatment in Havana.

The photos were shown on state television after Information Minister Ernesto Villegas released new details about Chavez’s condition, including that he is breathing through a tracheal tube that makes it difficult for him to speak.

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