Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro said Saturday that President Hugo Chavez is in "the best moment" of the complex postoperatory process he has faced since undergoing his latest round of cancer-related surgery in Cuba on Dec. 11.

In a statement made on his return from Cuba and before going to Santiago for the summit of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) and the European Union (EU), Maduro said that Chavez, who suffered from complications after the operation, "has entered a phase of complementary treatments" to deal with the cancer he is suffering.

"The comandante is in the best moment we have seen in all these days of fighting and doing battle," he said.

Maduro said the government group that visited Chavez in Cuba found him smiling, optimistic, with a great deal of faith in the treatment and "clinging" to life and to Christ.

According to the vice president, whom Chavez designated as his political successor before traveling to Cuba for the operation on Dec. 11, the president sent several messages, one of them addressed to the CELAC-EU summit.

The 58-year-old Chavez, who took office in 1999, was re-elected last Oct. 7 by a comfortable margin and is supposed to serve until 2019.

He has undergone four operations and courses of chemotherapy and radiation since he was first diagnosed with cancer in June 2011. EFE