Hugo Chavez still alive
He's got a great, big grin on his face and he's reading a recent Cuban newspaper. But Hugo Chavez still doesn't look very healthy and the fact that they've gone to all this trouble to print a picture of him reading a recent newspaper after two months of not seeing hide nor hair of him, raises questions about whether he's closer to death than they are letting on.
"After two months of a complicated post-operative process, the patient remains conscious with his intellectual functions intact," Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said, adding that Chávez is in close communication with his Cabinet.
Chávez has not been seen nor heard from since a fourth cancer operation in Havana on Dec. 11. The six-hour operation led to complications including a pulmonary infection and unexpected bleeding, the government has said.
The Chávez regime in Caracas has been tight-lipped about the president's well-being. What little information had been released was vague and in some cases contradictory.
During his absence, Chávez has missed local elections, his own inauguration following his re-election to a fourth term and State of the Union address.
In his absence the country is being led by Chávez's chosen successor, Vice President Nicolás Maduro, 50, a former bus driver who helped win Chávez's release from prison after he had been convicted of taking part in a failed coup in 1992. Chávez was first elected president in 1998.
Many Chavez observers believe he will never make it home alive - that he will die in Cuba. The rumors coming out of Havana are that he is still in dire straits and that he is fading.
But perhaps a miracle will occur and we will be rewarded by having Hugo Chavez to kick around a little while longer.