CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez appeared on television Tuesday for the first time in 10 days, chatting with aides and relatives in an upbeat outdoor encounter that allowed him to show supporters he remains vigorous despite his cancer treatment in Cuba.
The video showed Chavez tossing a bocce ball in a game that Venezuelans call "bolas criollas." It was Chavez's first appearance in video since he traveled to Cuba on April 14 for his latest round of cancer treatment.
Chavez wore a track suit as he talked and laughed with his brother Adan and Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro in a garden in the edited video clip, which was recorded Monday. Chavez put an arm around one of his daughters and gave a high-five to his grandson.
"I feel very, very happy within this treatment process," Chavez said. "We continue in the treatment, facing the difficulties, governing, making decisions on policies."
Chavez held up a crucifix and kissed it, saying he has faith in God that his cancer treatments will be successful.
In a phone call aired on state television Monday, the president said he plans to be home Thursday. During the preceding week, he had communicated only through messages on Twitter and other written statements.
Chavez urged supporters not to pay attention to rumors about his health, saying: "To foolish words, deaf ears." He said the rumors in recent days had made his mother nervous, and he talked with her by phone to reassure her.
The Venezuelan leader began radiation treatment in Cuba in late March after undergoing an operation in February that removed a second tumor from his pelvic region. The first tumor was taken out last June, and he then underwent chemotherapy.
Chavez has kept secret some details of his illness, including the type of cancer and the precise location of the tumors.
Chavez is running for re-election in October, seeking another six-year term.
In his typical fashion, Chavez chided the U.S. government and also praised Venezuela's voting system. He echoed remarks a day earlier by Tibisay Lucena, president of Venezuela's National Electoral Council, who said Venezuela's voting system is sophisticated, trustworthy and transparent.
"If someone has proof to the contrary, I ask them to bring it out," Chavez said. "But I say there's no other electoral system on this planet that's as transparent, as efficient, as good as ours."
President Barack Obama said recently that, as with elections in any country, the United States wants to see free and fair elections in Venezuela. Asked about that Monday, Lucena said that she hopes U.S. elections are transparent and that she believes Venezuela's automated voting system is more thoroughly audited than elections in the U.S.
Chavez praised her comments: "That's one of the responses for the empire and for Mr. Obama."
"How is ... Obama going to say he hopes there are transparent elections? We hope there are transparent elections in the United States," Chavez said. "Obama, take charge of governing your country. That's one of the problems in this world, that the United States wants, tries to continue dominating the world. No, the world is now too big for the United States."