Chavez returns to Cuba for medical treatment
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is once again in Cuba, where he arrived with substantially more security precautions than normal to undergo treatment.
For the first time since June 2011, when Chavez began coming and going to the island for cancer treatment and medical checkups, authorities in Caracas did not announce his departure time or provide any photographs of it, in contrast to other trips, on some of which he was accompanied by huge entourages on his way to the capital airport.
In Cuba Wednesday, it was reported that Chavez was on the island in a one-paragraph note in Communist Party daily Granma.
The Venezuelan president's return to Cuba comes six months after his latest stay in Havana to finish up a regimen of radiation therapy.
It has been almost 18 months since Chavez underwent surgery in Havana in June 2011 for a pelvic abscess during which the cancer was detected, although the specific type of the disease he is suffering from has been kept an official secret.
Since then, Chavez has returned to Cuba more than 10 times for surgical procedures, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and checkups.
The Venezuelan leader has stated that he has recovered from his cancer and is in good health.
Now, however, on his first trip abroad since winning re-election Oct 7, Chavez will be given a number of sessions of hyperbaric oxygenation.
Venezuela under Chavez is a vital political ally of Cuba and its largest trade partner.
Caracas provides Cuba with 100,000 barrels of crude oil per day which the island pays for in part with medical and educational services.