Venezuela's Chavez active, upbeat on TV in Cuba

Associated Press
In this photo released by Miraflores Press Office, Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, left, kisses a crucifix beside his daughter Rosa in Havana, Cuba, Monday, April 23, 2012.  President Hugo Chavez reappeared on television Monday after an eight-day silence, scoffing at rumors that his health took a turn for the worse and saying he plans to be back home Thursday after his latest round of cancer treatment in Cuba. (AP Photo/Miraflores Press Office/Estudios Revolucion)
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CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez appeared in video images for the first time in 10 days on Tuesday, chatting with aides and relatives in an upbeat outdoor encounter that allowed him to show supporters he remains vigorous despite his cancer treatment in Cuba.

The video, which was shown on Venezuelan television, displayed Chavez playing "bolas criollas," a Venezuelan game similar to lawn bowling. It was Chavez's first appearance in video since he traveled to Cuba on April 14 for his latest round of cancer treatment.

Chavez wore a track suit as he talked and laughed with his elder brother Adan and Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro in a garden in the edited images shot on Monday. Chavez put an arm around one of his daughters and gave a high-five to his grandson.

"I feel very, very happy within this treatment process," Chavez said. "We continue in the treatment, facing the difficulties, governing, making decisions on policies."

Chavez also made a telephone call to the television station on Monday, saying that he plans to be home Thursday. Earlier in his Cuba stay, Chavez had communicated only through messages on Twitter and other written statements.

Chavez urged supporters not to pay attention to rumors about his health, saying: "to foolish words, deaf ears."

The Venezuelan leader began radiation treatment in Cuba in late March after undergoing an operation in February that removed a second tumor from his pelvic region. The first tumor was taken out last June, and he then underwent chemotherapy.

Chavez has kept secret some details of his illness, including the type of cancer and the precise location of the tumors.

Chavez is running for re-election in October, seeking another six-year term.

In his typical fashion, Chavez chided the U.S. government and also praised Venezuela's voting system. He echoed remarks a day earlier by Tibisay Lucena, the president of Venezuela's National Electoral Council, who said Venezuela's voting system is sophisticated, trustworthy and transparent.

"If someone has proof to the contrary, I ask them to bring it out," Chavez said. "But I say there's no other electoral system on this planet that's as transparent, as efficient, as good, as ours."

President Barack Obama said recently that, as with elections in any country, the United States wants to see free and fair elections in Venezuela. Lucena responded on Monday when asked by a reporter, saying she hopes the upcoming U.S. elections are transparent and that she believes Venezuela's automated voting system is more thoroughly audited than elections in the U.S.

Chavez praised her comments saying: "That's one of the responses for the empire and for Mr. Obama."

"How is ... Obama going to say he hopes there are transparent elections? We hope there are transparent elections in the United States," Chavez said. "Obama, take charge of governing your country. That's one of the problems in this world, that the United States wants, tries to continue dominating the world. No, the world is now too big for the United States."

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