Chavez Ally: Ailing President Undergoing Physical Therapy
Venezuelan President awake, joking and still making decisions for country, says foreign minister
Marilia Brocchetto CNN
January 22, 2013(CNN) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is undergoing physical therapy in Cuba, an ally said Tuesday, a development that would be a significant step for the ailing leader, if true.
Bolivian President Evo Morales, during his state of the union speech Tuesday, said he spoke Sunday with Cuban officials who shared the news of Chavez's recovery.
"I have good news," Morales said. "Our brother, president-commander Hugo Chavez, is already doing physical therapy to return to his country."
Venezuelan and Cuban authorities have been secretive about the health of Chavez, who has not been seen since undergoing a fourth cancer surgery more than a month ago.
Morales' comment, along with another by Venezuela's foreign minister, paint an uplifting picture, but officials have previously provided rosy reports that did not bear out.
Chavez is awake, joking and, most importantly, still making decisions for the country, the foreign minister, Elias Jaua, said.
Jaua said he met with Chavez on Monday in Cuba.
"Compatriots, leaving the meeting with our President Commander Hugo Chavez. We shared jokes and laughs," Jaua said in a tweet.
Jaua said Chavez was making decisions about the upcoming summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, a coalition of the region's countries.
"He made decisions about our participation in the Summit," the foreign minister tweeted. "Very happy that progress continues ..."
Two weeks ago, Chavez was unable to be sworn in for a new term because of his health.
The postponed inauguration raised constitutional questions about who is in charge of the country, opposition politicians have said.
But the Supreme Court ruled that Chavez remains president and can be sworn in at a later date.
Chavez has not made a public appearance or spoken on state television since doctors operated on him. The long absence is not typical of the loquacious leader.
CNN's Rafael Romo and Mariano Castillo contributed to this report.