First pictures of Chavez since cancer operation

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THE first pictures of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez since he underwent a fourth cancer operation at the end of last year have been shown on his country’s state TV network.

The photos, which show the socialist leader smiling with his daughters, Maria and Rosa, at his bedside in a Havana hospital, are the first affirmations of life the world has seen since he had the surgery on 11 December.

Mr Chavez, 58, has been undergoing treatment in Cuba since he announced his cancer in June 2011. One picture shows him reading Thursday’s edition of Cuban newspaper Granma.

The signs of life from Venezuela’s leader may quell criticism from his party’s opponents, who have been gearing up for a secondary election since Mr Chavez missed the inauguration ceremony for his third term as president in January.

In the photos, he is propped up in bed, reminding viewers that his cancer battle is still in a delicate stage.

The authorities said the photos had been taken by his son-in-law Jorge Arreaza, who is minister for science and technology.