CARACAS - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said he had his "full faculties" after an operation in Cuba and was still managing government affairs despite being ordered to rest for several days more.
Chavez, 56, had a pelvic abscess successfully removed on Friday during a scheduled visit to Cuba, forcing him to postpone his return to Venezuela.
"I am in full control of my faculties," Chavez told TV network Telesur, saying he was in constant touch with his ministers and giving orders for state affairs.
The operation, following a knee injury and string of colds that kept Chavez out of the public limelight for weeks, has put a spotlight on the health of a man who prides himself on loving sport and projecting a physically robust image.
Supporters have been praying for his recovery, while critics have been insinuating he may have something worse.
"The operation was a success," Chavez said. "There is no malignant sign and no infection."
Ally and mentor Fidel Castro, the former Cuban president, had been at his bedside, bringing films and books to help him while away the time, Chavez said.
"He attends to every detail."
The president said he had signed a law to double the Venezuelan government's debt limit this year.
Chavez said he was also anxiously tracking power cuts that are irritating many in Venezuela.
The latest wave of blackouts, in the western oil-rich state of Zulia, have been headline news in Venezuela for days, with some residents taking up pots and pans to protest.
"The electricity issue has me very worried," Chavez said, urging Venezuelans to save power and accusing some enemies of deliberately sabotaging the grid.
Asked when he would be back in Venezuela, Chavez said it was impossible to predict but "it won't be long."
The socialist leader's close relationship with communist-led Cuba has been controversial throughout his 12 years in office. Chavez's open acknowledgment of Castro as his inspiration infuriates his political opponents.
Chavez's operation has set off chatter about his government's dependence on him, and his one-man domination of the political apparatus.
"Chavez has no obvious successor with his immense charisma and unrivaled political talents, at least among his small inner circle," UK-based newsletter LatinNews said.
Without him in theory, the "revolution" might not survive while the removal of subsidized oil shipments to Cuba and other Caribbean and Central American governments could change the political dynamic around the region, it added.
In practice, though, Chavez plans to run for re-election in 2012 and is currently favorite to win in most analysts' views.
© 2017 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.