Venezuela’s Chavez tells state TV he’s doing well

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) ? Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez on Thursday made his first live communication with news media since undergoing surgery this week to remove a possibly cancerous tumor.

Chavez said in a several-minute phone conversation broadcast on state television that he is doing well and recovering from the operation in Cuba.

“Since the day before yesterday I am walking, roaming the hallways. I am on a good diet,” he said from Havana.

Chavez has been in Cuba since last Friday to have a growth removed in the same part of the pelvis where a larger, malignant tumor was extracted last year. There has been no word on whether the new lesion is cancerous, but the office of the presidency said this week that there had been no complications involving nearby organs.

Venezuelan officials said the operation was a success and urged Venezuelans to unconfirmed reports that his cancer may have metastasized or that he may have suffered internal hemorrhaging.

The exact nature and location of Chavez’s cancer have not been disclosed.

Isis Ochoa, minister of communes and social protection, said on television Wednesday that the government has been completely open and that any circumspection is due to security reasons. She was responding to criticism that officials have been less than forthcoming and that Venezuelans have a right to know more details of the president’s health.

“It is risky information from the point of view of the safety of the leader, and (amid) the speculations … from his enemies,” Ochoa said. “Whenever we have to give information we do it with great responsibility, with great seriousness and through the normal channels.”

Until Thursday, Chavez had not been directly seen or heard from since he spoke with state television last Friday night upon arriving in Cuba.

His Twitter account began posting messages again Wednesday after being silent since Feb. 22. On Thursday, it carried a message saying Chavez was watching with satisfaction a Venezuelan television report on the progress of a housing construction program for the poor.

“Good morning, good world! I am pleased to see on our VTV how the Great Venezuelan Housing Mission is advancing! Such beautiful buildings! Live living,” it read.