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Cuba, Venezuela put out new images of post-op Chavez

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 28, 2011 8:53 PM

CARACAS (Reuters) - The governments of Cuba and Venezuela released new pictures and video footage of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Tuesday showing him chatting with Fidel Castro and walking outside after undergoing surgery in Havana.

"These images should serve to calm the Venezuelan people down over the health of President Chavez," Information Minister Andres Izarra told Venezuelan state TV after the images were shown.

It was not immediately clear when the footage or photos were taken, but Chavez appeared to be in better condition than in a set of pictures released shortly after the June 10 operation to remove an abscess from his pelvis.

In some of the pictures, Venezuela's socialist leader was seen in a chair facing Castro, with a young girl presumed to be one of Chavez's grandchildren sitting to one side.

In others, and in the brief video footage, the 56-year-old Chavez was seen walking outside in an open area with the former Cuban leader. Both men were wearing tracksuits and at one point they were seen pouring over articles in a newspaper.

"To those of you who have been speculating over the president's health, there he is," Izarra added.

The guessing game over Chavez's health had taken new twists, with rumors ranging from a possible takeover push by his brother to a possible return by the end of this week.

His disappearance from public view since the operation in Havana has convulsed the volatile and politically polarized South American OPEC member of 29 million people.

(Reporting by Daniel Wallis; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)