His views are strongly left of center. At the same time, he'll prioritize political stability. Maintaining Chavez's base is vital. He'll also have to deal effectively with disparate and fractious elements.
Before leaving early Monday, Chavez met with military commanders. He made Defense Minister Diego Molero admiral in chief.
He showed him and other commanders a golden sword. It belonged to Simon Bolivar. He said he fully trusts them. "I'm totally sure that our homeland is safe," he added. He urged them "not to give in to intrigue."
In the doorway of his plane before departing, he waved and shouted "Long live our homeland."
Supportive messages arrived from abroad. Cuban President Raul Castro and Ecuadorean President Rafael Correa welcomed him in Havana. "We've come in solidarity," they said.
Correa called him "a historic president, a great friend, and most of all an extraordinary human being. You are not alone in your struggle," he said.
In June 2011, Chavez was first diagnosed with pelvic cancer. After three surgeries and multiple rounds of chemotherapy and radiation treatment, he told Venezuelans he was totally cancer free. He was at the time.
Recovery isn't easy. Reoccurrence can follow remission. At the same time, many cancer patients recover fully. They live long, health, productive lives. Hopefully Chavez is one of them.