CARACAS - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez headed home on Friday after a series of cancer radiation treatments in Cuba to a nation fretting over his health five months before a presidential election.

Photos issued by the Venezuelan government showed Chavez smiling as he bade farewell to Cuban President Raul Castro at the airport before boarding the flight back on Friday evening.

But the images, showing Chavez from the waist up dressed in loose-fitting sports clothes, gave few clues to the real state of health of a man only seen once in public in the last month.

"I'm on the plane, on the runway of 'Jose Marti' airport. Heading for the Venezuelan fatherland. With more optimism than ever! We will live and we will conquer!" Chavez said in a message on Twitter.

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