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Chávez ‘in critical condition’ in Cuban hospital
LONDON, JUNE 26 (AGENCIES):
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Published on 26 Jun. 2011 10:13 PM IST
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Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez is in critical condition in a Cuban hospital, according to reports.
The revolutionary socialist leader, who was last seen in public on June 9, is said to be receiving treatment for a pelvic abscess.
On June 12, the president completed a phone call with Venezuelan state television, and said medical tests showed no sign of any ‘malignant’ illness.
But according to a report in El Nuevo Herald, Mr Chávez is in ‘critical condition, not grave, but critical, in a complicated situation’, according to unnamed U.S. intelligence officials.
In Venezuela there is speculation that the president is actually suffering from prostate cancer. Intelligence officials could not confirm a diagnosis of prostate cancer but Mr Chávez’s family did go to Cuba in the last 72 hours.
His daughter Rosinés and his mother Marisabel Rodríguez urgently left the country and headed to Cuba in a Venezuelan air force plane.
The government has treated the president’s departure as a state secret, providing few details about his condition.
The uncertainty over the president’s health has led to the first talks of succession - in his 12 years in power no one successor has ever emerged.
Mr Chávez’s bother, Adan Chávez, who is a state governor, told state television that he was recovering well.
He said: ‘In response to all the rumours, I can give faith that the president is recovering in a satisfactory manner,” Adan Chávez, who is a state governor, told state television Wednesday. “The president is a strong man.’
Adan Chávez added that ‘it’s not clear’ when his younger brother would return home, but said the president is expected to leave Cuba within 10 to 12 days.
Possibly to stave off rumours of bad health, Chávez personal Twitter account went active on Friday, for the first time in 20 days.
‘I’m here with you during the hard battles every day! Until victory always! We are winning! And we shall win!’ he tweeted.
Last week he posed between two other socialist heavyweights - Fidel Castro and his brother Raul.
The Venezuelan leader looked robust in his shiny tracksuit in his national colours while former Cuban president Fidel Castro appeared dishevelled in similar leisurewear.
The government originally said he would return ‘in a few days’, but as time has gone by and Chavez has remained in Cuba, rumours have circulated in Venezuela that the 56-year-old former soldier may be seriously ill.
However one Chavez ally, General Carlos Mata Figueroa told state television: ‘He’s getting better, stronger than ever.’
His absence has highlighted Chavez’s total dominance of Venezuelan politics - not to mention the airwaves - and the lack of an obvious successor.
Latin News, a think-tank based in the UK, said: ‘His senior ministers look dull and slightly hapless in his absence, underling his unique political charisma.’

 
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