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Chavez returns to Venezuela after latest round of treatment

From Nelson Quinones, CNN
updated 5:50 AM EDT, Thu April 12, 2012
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has spent 38 days in Havana since the beginning of the year.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has spent 38 days in Havana since the beginning of the year.
  • NEW: Chavez speaks to the nation from presidential palace
  • Chavez has spent 38 days in Cuba in 2012
  • He had been in the island nation since Sunday, undergoing cancer treatment
  • His return to Venezuela comes as the country marks the anniversary of a coup

(CNN) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez returned home late Wednesday night from his latest round of cancer treatment in Cuba and told the nation he was "advancing with great faith" in his battle.

"Arriving from Havana after completing another round of radiation treatments, here we go in a battle," the ailing leader said in an address from the Miraflores presidential palace, "advancing with great faith, recovering and recovering."

Earlier, Chavez greeted well-wishers at Simon Bolivar International Airport outside Caracas, waving, shaking hands and kissing some on the cheek before he was whisked away to the palace, where he met with several of his ministers.

Unlike his previous arrivals from Cuba, Chavez didn't spend time on the tarmac answering questions at length.

His return to Venezuela comes as the country marks the anniversary of a 2002 coup that briefly removed Chavez from power. The state-run AVN news agency reported that he was expected to take part in events commemorating the failed coup.

"The empire and its bourgeois lackeys thought they were overthrowing us. I said to them: This is not a disarmed revolution," a Twitter post on the president's official account said.

Doctors in Cuba have operated on Chavez twice to remove cancerous tumors, he has said.

The 57-year-old president has not specified the type of cancer he is battling, and the government has released few specifics -- fueling widespread speculation about his health and political future.

Since the beginning of the year, Chavez has spent 38 days in Havana.

Speaking at a Mass in his home state of Barinas last week, he teared up at times as he discussed his struggle with illness.

"Christ ... give me life, because I still have things to do for the people and this country. Do not take me yet," he said.

Chavez described cancer as "a true threat that marks the end of the path for many people. The end of the physical path, that's the truth."

But Chavez said that he was recovering, adding that he had "much faith, much hope, much willpower to defeat this threat, as many people have, with the help of God and medical science."

The outspoken, flamboyant socialist leader has led Venezuela since 1999 and has pledged to run for re-election in October.

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