CARACAS - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is able to work on government issues and is “very energetic” despite being hospitalised and breathing through a tube, a top aide said Saturday. The 58-year-old president has not been seen or heard from since Monday, when he returned to Caracas from cancer surgery in Cuba. “The president continues to breathe through a tracheal tube, but he is able to communicate with us through written notes and give us instructions,” Vice President Nicolas Maduro told local television. He said he spent more than five hours with Chavez in his hospital room on Friday, and was able to discuss several issues, specifically military affairs and the economy. “He was very energetic, had a lot of spirit and vitality, and that’s what we wanted to tell the people despite the late hour,” Maduro said. “We have reviewed a number of subjects, and he told us about being extremely happy to be in Caracas, the city of his heart.” Since his last surgery, the only photos released of Chavez came out almost a week ago. He was seen bed-ridden but smiling, looking through a newspaper with two of his daughters at his side. At the Caracas military hospital where Chavez is said to be continuing his convalescence, soldiers are on guard outside to keep out journalists and curious onlookers.