Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is fighting for his life in a Caracas military hospital 10 days after returning from cancer treatment in Cuba, his vice president said on Thursday.
Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro did not provide more details, but the government said last week that Chavez was still suffering from a respiratory infection and that the trajectory was not favorable.
As he presented subsidized homes on state-run TV, Maduro said that Chavez was “battling for his health, for his life, and we are accompanying him,” adding later that the president was in a “complex and difficult” stage.
Chavez’s chosen successor and other officials have used similar phrases to describe his condition in recent weeks.
“Do you know why he neglected his health?” the vice president said. “Because he gave his body and soul completely and forgot all his obligations to himself to give the people a fatherland, to give those who had nothing a job, a life, a house, health, food, education.”
Chavez, the flamboyant standard-bearer of the Latin American left for more than a decade, has not spoken or appeared in public since undergoing a fourth round of cancer surgery in Cuba on Dec. 11 last year.
Only one set of pictures has been released, on Feb. 15, showing him in his Havana hospital bed, smiling with two of his daughters.
He spent two months in the Cuban capital before returning to Venezuela in the dead of night on Feb. 18.
Maduro praised Cuba’s leaders and the work of Cuban doctors, nurses and scientists who helped Chavez “overcome every stage of the operation and the post-operation.”
“Now we are in this complex and difficult stage, continuing the treatment of our commander in chief,” he said on Thursday at a meeting of eight Latin American and Caribbean states.
With Chavez out of sight since his return, rumors about his health have spread on social media Web sites and in the streets of Caracas.
The government insists that he is still in charge, giving orders from his sickbed by writing, because a tracheal tube hinders his speech.