Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has made a surprise return from Cuba after cancer surgery, but there is no word on whether he is fit enough to resume what has been an extraordinary political career:
- Born to a poor family in 1954, his humble roots have helped him forge a bond with many of Venezuela's poor
- A former lieutenant colonel, he led a 1992 coup that failed but launched his political career
- After being pardoned, he won the 1998 presidential election and took office the following year
- Arrested in 2002 after a coup, but public protests and the army helped sweep him back to power two days later
- Massive state spending on health and education programs, financed by income from oil exports, has won him backing from the poor
- Known for his brash style and long-winded televised speeches
- Opponents accuse him of repressing critics and squandering record oil revenues
- Announced cancer treatment in 2011; has since had four operations in Cuba
- Re-elected in October, but his January swearing-in was postponed
- Flew back to Venezuela today and went straight to hospital for more treatment.
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Face to face with 2 tons of unpredictable muscle is an awe-inspiring moment but within a few years it will be impossible, they will be gone.