* President in Havana for cancer-linked treatment
* Chavez has not been seen in public for two weeks
CARACAS, Nov 29 (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez
is doing well as he receives medical treatment in Cuba, Vice
President Nicolas Maduro said on Thursday, despite a two-week
absence from public view that has raised fresh doubts about his
Chavez, 58, said in a letter to parliament on Tuesday he was
returning to Havana for "hyperbaric oxygenation," which is used
to treat bone decay caused by radiation therapy. The president
has undergone three cancer operations in Cuba since mid-2011.
No images were published of his departure from Caracas or
of his arrival on the communist-led island, fueling speculation
among many Venezuelans about whether the latest twist was normal
post-radiation treatment, or a more serious downturn.
"They are carrying out therapies to strengthen his health
even more. The president is good, he is very good, and he is
going to get much better," Maduro told a meeting with workers
that was broadcast live by Venezuelan state TV.
The usually garrulous socialist leader has made few public
appearances since winning a new six-year term in an election in
October. His campaign was more subdued than usual, and he said
afterward that radiation therapy had left him exhausted.
Chavez has open-ended authorization from legislators to
travel, but aims to be back at least for the Jan. 10 start of
his new term, if not for a couple of regional summits before
His latest absence has put renewed attention on Maduro, his
vice president, and on Congress head Diosdado Cabello, two close
and powerful allies of the president who might look to replace
him if Chavez were to leave power.
Under the South American country's constitution, an election
would have to be held if Chavez were to leave office within the
first four years of his next six-year term.
'FULFILLING THE PEOPLE'S MANDATE'
Maduro called on all Venezuelans to "respect" Chavez as he
received treatment, and said voters on the campaign trail had
urged the president to focus on his health.
"In every town, they told him, 'Take care of yourself
president, be disciplined with your treatment.' And that is
exactly what he's doing now: fulfilling the people's mandate."
As usual, security was tight outside Havana's Cimeq
hospital, where Chavez is receiving treatment as a guest of his
friend and political mentor, former Cuban leader Fidel Castro.
"We're happy to be able to help Chavez," said local
community worker Guillermo Fonseca, 59, as he hefted a trash can
across a nearby street.
"We don't see him as a big chief, we see him as a friend, a
brother, a family member who needs us. Chavez didn't think twice
about helping us, for example after Hurricane Sandy struck."
Chavez's return to the Caribbean island could be a blow to
ruling Socialist Party candidates who wanted him to campaign
alongside them before elections for state governors on Dec. 16.
A prolonged absence could also postpone big policy decisions,
such as a widely expected devaluation of the bolivar currency.
Given investor hopes for a more market-friendly government
in the continent's top oil exporter, Venezuela's widely traded
bonds have risen this week.
The prices of the government's benchmark Global 27
note and state oil company PDVSA's closely watched
2022 bond are up about 3.7 percent and 4.0 percent
respectively since Monday.