The health of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has been stabilizing in recent days as he recuperates at a clinic in Havana from a fourth operation to remove cancerous tissue, the Venezuelan vice president said on Saturday.
Vice-President and Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro, whom Chavez named as his possible successor before the operation, said the president “continues his post-operation recovery and his health stabilizes with each day that passes.”
Venezuelan Minister of Information and Communication Ernesto Villegas earlier said Chavez suffered bleeding during the operation, but it was immediately staunched. Later, the president was diagnosed with respiratory infection, frequent in patients who are recovering from serious operations, but it was contained.
Chavez, 58, who has ruled Venezuela for 13 years, underwent three operations for cancer and four courses of chemotherapy in Cuba and Venezuela within a year. He agreed to the fourth surgery after recent tests had revealed malignant cells.
His fourth operation that lasted more than six hours took place on December 11. He is scheduled to be inaugurated to a new six-year presidential term on January 10, 2013.
Venezuela National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello said on Saturday early elections won’t be announced if Chavez isn’t sworn in as scheduled.
“Forget about January 10,” he said on state TV. “Read the articles of the [constitution] properly and come back to earth.”
Under the 1999 constitution, a National Assembly President can assume interim presidential duties only due to an “absolute” reason, like a president’s death or permanent total disability. An early election date is to be announced within 30 days.
One of the president’s daughters, Maria Gabriela Chavez demanded to halt media “lies” about her father’s health condition in a Twitter message on Friday.