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Chavez back home in Venezuela, still out of sight

By The Associated Press

This article was published February 19, 2013 at 9:48 a.m.

— President Hugo Chavez is back in Venezuela after 10 weeks of cancer treatment in Cuba, but he remained silent and out of sight Tuesday, closed away in a tightly guarded military hospital, leaving the nation to speculate about whether he can still govern, and for how long.

Government officials are insisting that Chavez remains in charge even as observers are increasingly questioning whether a leader who has been breathing through a tube and hasn’t spoken publicly in more than two months is capable of remaining in office.

Chavez’s political allies have left open the possibility that the president may finally take the oath of office for a new term, a ceremony originally scheduled for last month, while he was undergoing cancer treatment in Cuba.

But they have given few precise details what sort of cancer the president suffers, saying only that it is in his pelvic region, or what sort of “complex and tough” treatment he is undergoing.

Officials have confirmed he underwent a tracheostomy and uses a tube to help breathe, but it is not clear whether he can do so on his own or is relying on a ventilator.

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