Chávez cheered by display of support
CARACAS - A march by thousands of Venezuelans to mark the country’s bicentennial quickly turned into a show of support yesterday for ailing President Hugo Chávez, who remained in Cuba recovering from the removal of a cancerous tumor.
The president’s red-clad supporters waved flags, beat drums, and chanted “Long live Chávez!’’ They also displayed signs reading “Get well soon, commander’’ and “Venezuela is with you.’’
A message on Chávez’s Twitter account said he was doing his “daily exercises and receiving that bath of love’’ from the demonstrators in Caracas. “It’s the best medicine!’’ he said.
Chávez sent four messages within three hours yesterday, including one referring to the “Bolivarian youth’’ marching on the streets: “I see you, I hear you.’’
The mood was energetic and festive as thousands waved their hands in the air, yet also tempered by concerns for the future.
The march was organized as part of the country’s weeklong celebrations marking the 200th anniversary of its declaration of independence from Spain. A military parade is planned on tomorrow’s anniversary.
Venezuelan state television showed new video footage yesterday of Chávez chatting with his foreign minister and taking a stroll hand-in-hand with two of his daughters, Rosa and Maria. He wore a sports jersey with his name on the back as they walked along a concrete path lined with grass and palm trees.
Chávez has lost weight after his surgeries and appeared thin but energetic and animated as he reminisced with Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro about old friends.
State television said the video was recorded Friday. Photographs of the encounter were also published by Venezuela’s state news agency and the state-run Cuban news media.
Maduro said during an interview televised Saturday that Venezuelan and Cuban doctors were able to remove the tumor completely.
“They examined all of his organs and they are in perfect condition,’’ he said.
Chávez opponents have accused the government of not providing enough information about the president’s condition.
The president’s illness has raised questions about whether he will be fit to run for reelection in 2012.