Chávez returns to Venezuela

El Presidente Chávez returned early this morning to Venezuela surprising most Venezuelans. He appeared to be in good spirits.

(Reuters) - Venezuela's ever-theatrical President Hugo Chavez made a surprise homecoming from Cuba on Monday and declared himself "fine" despite speculation his cancer may still require lengthy treatment.

"I'm happy ... I'm going to get some rest," a bubbly-sounding Chavez told state TV by telephone after touching down in the early hours of the morning.

Elated supporters took to the streets of Caracas within minutes, chanting: "He's back! He's back!".

Chavez's return changes the political dynamics once again in Venezuela, where politicians on all sides had been bracing for a protracted months-long absence of the man who has dominated the OPEC member nation for the last 12 years.

He may receive all necessary medical treatment in Venezuela or he may return to Cuba for some.   Here is an analysis at The Devil's Excrement, written by a thoughtful student of Venezuela this morning after the return of Chávez.  After discussing the possibilities for the 2012 Venezuelan elections, he concludes:

My feeling at this time, is that what Chavez has is quite serious, that he may not last until the election and we face uncertain times ahead, but Chavez’ cancer may prove me wrong. His return today suggests that he felt his presence in Caracas was needed to deal with the different groups and perhaps to start making changes like in the Vice-Presidency.

The information I have is that what Chavez has is quite serious, very serious, but you never know with this illness, so my “feeling” may be wrong to begin with. The rest, we will have to wait to see how it plays out.

Things are seldom what they seem. Chávez is a great showman and it is very difficult even for one with superb contacts in and insights into Venezuela to know, as distinguished from to speculate, about what's happening now and even more so about what will happen between now and the 2012 election.