CARACAS — Vice President Nicolas Maduro said Sunday he is optimistic that Hugo Chavez will soon return to Venezuela after cancer-related surgery in Cuba.
Maduro said that he and other government officials ‘‘are always optimistic that we are going to have the president here with us sooner rather than later,’’ but he did not provide any more details about the possibility of Chavez’s return during a televised interview.
Chavez is ‘‘moving forward’’ with his recovery and he’s eager ‘‘to see the fatherland to which he has dedicated his life,’’ Maduro said.
Before his latest cancer surgery, Chavez said that if his illness cuts short his presidency, Maduro should run in a new election to take his place. Chavez has not spoken publicly or been seen since the Dec. 11 surgery in Cuba for an unspecified type of pelvic cancer.
The socialist leader’s long absence has spurred much speculation on his health.
Many opposition politicians argue Chavez, who was reelected to a fresh 6-year term in October, is not fit to continue governing Venezuela. The president’s allies reject those allegations.