The brother of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has denied that the ailing Chavez is in coma, saying the Venezuelan leader is responding well to cancer treatment in Cuba and making progress on a daily basis.
“Reports that the president is in a coma and that the family is discussing ending life support, are totally false,” Barinas State Governor Adan Chavez said in a statement on Saturday.
He “continues to respond well to his medical care and to make daily progress in his recovery,” Adan Chavez said.
Chavez, whose OPEC-member nation controls the world’s largest proven oil reserves, has been out of the public eye since undergoing surgery in Havana on Dec. 11. It is the fourth such operation in the 18 months since his condition was made public.
Previously, officials said the fiery leftist leader was suffering from a severe pulmonary infection that resulted in a “respiratory insufficiency.”
That fueled speculation about his prospects for a full recovery — and his political future.
A recent report in the Spanish newspaper ABC said the Venezuelan president was in an induced coma and on life support.
The uncertainty surrounding Chavez’s condition has unsettled Venezuela.
The government was forced to postpone the president’s scheduled inauguration on Thursday, as it became clear that he could not attend. Authorities insist the country’s constitution allows Chavez to take the oath of office at a later time.
However, the opposition has objected, calling for a medical board to review the absent leader’s health — a demand rejected by the Supreme Court, which said the delayed swearing-in was constitutional.
In Cuba on Saturday, Cuban President Raul Castro voiced his support for the Venezuelan leadership, his government’s closest and most critical economic and political ally.
Castro’s comments came during a meeting with Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro, who arrived in the Cuban capital late on Friday to visit Chavez.
Raul Castro “expressed his confidence in the ability of the Venezuelan people and their institutions to address and overcome any challenge,” a government statement said.
“Raul and Maduro shared their mutual satisfaction with the emotional demonstration of support for Venezuela and President Chavez on Jan. 10 in Caracas,” it added, a reference to a mass rally on the Venezuelan capital.
At a mass for Chavez in Havana late on Saturday, priest Yosvany Carvajal asked God to bless him, stay at his side and ensure a swift recovery. Worshipers included Venezuelan Ambassador Edgardo Ramirez and Alex Castro, son and personal photographer of former Cuban president Fidel Castro.
Two Chavez allies, Argentine President Cristina Fernandez and Peruvian President Ollanta Humala, also arrived in Havana on Friday.