Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has flown into Cuba for cancer-linked medical treatment that revived questions about the viability of his socialist rule and left citizens again guessing about his exact condition.
After weeks of scarce public appearances, Mr Chavez, 58, announced in a letter on Tuesday that he was going to Havana for therapy known as “hyperbaric oxygenation” – a method used to reduce bone decay caused by radiation therapy.
Communist Party daily paper Granma confirmed his arrival in Cuba yesterday.
In Havana, Mr Chavez enjoys the friendship of past and present Cuban leaders Fidel and Raul Castro, plus guaranteed privacy on the tightly controlled Caribbean island.
Though he had declared himself cured, Mr Chavez appeared exhausted at the end of his successful presidential re-election bid in October. He later admitted radiation had taken its toll.
The normally garrulous and omnipresent leader has made only a few, relatively short, public appearances – mainly on state TV, at his presidential palace –since his win on 7 October. One opposition newspaper dubbed him “The Invisible Man”.