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Chavez battles 'severe' post-surgery lung infection

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2013-01-04

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is being treated for "a severe respiratory infection" following his December 11 cancer surgery in Havana, Venezuela's information minister said in a televised statement on Thursday night.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is being treated for "a severe respiratory infection" following his December 11 cancer surgery in Havana, Venezuela's information minister said in a televised statement on Thursday night.

Chavez developed the infection following a December 11 operation in Havana to treat a relapse of cancer, Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said.

Chavez allies on Thursday accused the Venezuelan opposition and the international media of capitalising on the president’s health troubles to wage a "psychological war", with the goal of destabilising the country and undermining its socialist revolution.

The government in Caracas "warns the Venezuelan people about the psychological war that the transnational media complex has unleashed around the health of the chief of state, with the ultimate goal of destabilising the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela", Villegas said.

Villegas’ statement came in the wake of increasing demands from opposition figures that the government provide a more detailed account of Chavez's condition and conclusively determine whether he is fit to take the oath of office on January 10 as planned for another six-year term.

Venezuela's constitution calls for new elections to be held within 30 days if the president is unable to take the oath.

Vice President Nicolas Maduro, who is Chavez’s hand-picked successor, and National Assembly speaker Diosdado Cabello made clear on their return from visiting Chavez in Cuba this week that they were not preparing for any transfer of power and fully expect Chavez to serve another term.

"Here there is only one transition, and it began at least six years ago -- and it was decreed by comandante Hugo Chavez," Maduro said, referring to the 2006 launch of the president's socialist revolution.

The two men denied rumours of an internal power struggle, with Maduro saying that they would remain united -- with each other and with all Venezuelans.

"We are here more united than ever," said Maduro. "And we have sworn before comandante Hugo Chavez, and we reaffirmed to him today in our oath ... that we would be united with our people."

Referring to the reports of a rift, Cabello said the opposition would have to wait "2000 years for that to happen".

Maduro also accused the opposition of "lies and manipulation, a campaign to try to create uncertainty", and said US elements were behind the machinations.

"We know that the United States is where these manipulations are being managed," Maduro said. "They think that their time has come. And we have entered a kind of crazy hour of offensive by the right, here and internationally."

It was unclear whether Maduro was referring to US-based Venezuelans or the US government itself.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland has denied claims that US officials were meddling in Venezuelan affairs.

"The message we are giving to Venezuelans of all stripes [is] that we want to see any transition be democratic, be constitutional, be open, be transparent, be legal within Venezuela, and that it has to be decided by Venezuelans," Nuland said.

Chavez was re-elected October 7 despite his battle with cancer and the strongest opposition challenge yet to his 14-year rule in Venezuela, which has the world's largest proven oil reserves.

But Chavez has not been seen in public since he underwent a long and complicated surgery on December 11 for a recurrence of an unspecified form of cancer, and officials have been forced to acknowledge that his recovery has been complicated.

Cancer was first detected by Cuban doctors in June 2011, but the Venezuelan government has never revealed what form of the disease he is battling.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-01-04


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