Hugo Chavez Returns to Venezuela. What Happens Next?

But chances are slim with even government officials saying last week that his condition is delicate, difficult, and that he is "fighting for his life."

For the moment however, Chávez's surprise comeback provides a glimmer of hope to supporters, who welcomed news of his arrival with fireworks, and even gathered in front of the military hospital where Chávez is staying in Caracas.

Chávez's return also takes away some attention from the daily problems that have beset his government, like soaring crime rates, and serious food shortages.

Just last week, the Venezuelan government was also forced to devalue the national currency, the Bolivar, by 30 percent of its value relative to the U.S. dollar. This move was necessary in order for the national oil company PDVSA to get more local cash for each barrel of oil it sells, money which can then be diverted to social programs. But devaluation is also expected to drive up the country´s steep inflation rate, it makes crucial food imports more expensive, and it also means that people´s savings are now worth less. Chávez has returned to Venezuela, in the middle of difficult times.

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