UPDATE 1-Venezuela's Chavez doing well in Cuba -vice president

* 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.


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.

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