Chavez aware of his condition: VP

AFP, CARACAS

Thu, Jan 03, 2013 - Page 7

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is conscious and fully aware of how “complex” his condition remains three weeks after difficult cancer surgery in Havana, his handpicked successor said on Tuesday.

Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro, who accused the right of spreading what he described as sick lies and rumors about Chavez’s health, said that he had spoken to the ailing leader twice over the past three days.

“He is absolutely aware of how complex the post-operative condition is,” Maduro said in an interview from Havana with Telesur, a cable news channel funded by Latin American states.

Maduro, who said he would be returning to Caracas yesterday, provided no specifics about Chavez’s condition, but defended the government’s efforts to keep the public abreast of the president’s health.

He said Chavez demanded that “we should keep the people informed, always with the truth, no matter how hard it might be in a given circumstance.”

“We are confronting a situation in which the president is being attended to, is undergoing his treatment, in a complex situation and the whole time we are awaiting a positive outcome,” Maduro added. “At times, there have been slight improvements, at times there have been stationary situations.”

However, he expressed confidence that “sooner, rather than later,” Chavez would surmount the crisis, adding that Chavez had squeezed his hand “with gigantic force” while they talked.

Maduro’s appeals for public confidence in the government’s information came amid a cascade of rumors on social networks like Twitter, including some that claimed Chavez was on life support or was dead.

“What is behind the ill-intentioned rumors? It is the evil and hatred of the enemies of Venezuela,” he said. “They are people who anybody could describe as mentally ill, sick with hatred, sick with evil.”