Photo provided by the Presidency of Venezuela shows Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (C) and his daughters Rosa Virginia (R) and Maria Gabriela reading a Feb. 14, 2013 copy of Cuban Government's official newspaper "Granma" during his recovery process in Havana, capital of Cuba on Feb. 15, 2013. (Xinhua)
CARACAS, Feb. 15 (Xinhua) -- Venezuela's government Friday released the first images of ailing President Hugo Chavez since he underwent cancer surgery in Cuba two months ago, showing him propped up in bed flanked by his two eldest daughters.
Minister of Science and Technology Jorge Arreaza, who is also Chavez's son-in-law, said the photos were taken in Havana on Valentine's Day Thursday, when the recovering president was visited by his daughters Rosa and Maria.
Arreaza displayed four images in all on state-run VTV, including one that showed Chavez reading a copy of the Cuban Communist Party daily Granma, reportedly dated Thursday.
Dressed in a track suit and reclining in what appears to be a hospital bed, Chavez appears ruddy cheeked and smiling.
The photos mark the first time the 58-year-old president has been seen since his operation Dec. 11, the fourth in less than a year and half.
His lengthy absence and the lack of information about his exact condition had fueled rumors of a failed or stagnant recovery, despite assurances from his aides that he was making steady progress.
For the first time Thursday, however, aides admitted Chavez has difficulty breathing and is being aided by a tracheal tube, making it difficult for him to speak.
Reading from a written medical report, Communication and Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said Chavez's "intellectual functions are wholly intact, he is in close communication with his government team and leading the business of government."
But Chavez is not out of the woods yet, Villegas indicated, saying his health "is not free of complications."
Chavez was first diagnosed with cancer in June 2011, divulging only that it is in his pelvic region. He appeared to have overcome the disease after his third operation and was declared cancer free prior to Venezuela's general elections last fall, in which he was reelected.
In December doctors ordered emergency surgery, after which his recovery was complicated by a lung infection.
Chavez missed his Jan. 10 inauguration, which was then postponed until his condition improves, despite opposition from conservative political parties.
CARACAS, Feb. 15 (Xinhua) -- Venezuela's ailing President Hugo Chavez is breathing through a tracheal tube and has difficulty talking, top aides said Friday after releasing images of the recovering head of state for the first time since he was operated on two months ago.
"The respiratory infection that emerged during the post-operative stage was controlled, but a certain degree of (breathing) insufficiency persists," Communication and Information Minister Ernesto Villegas read a written statement broadcast on national radio and television stations. Full story