Chavez 'only kept alive by life support' after cancer surgery
Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez is in an induced coma being kept alive by life support following complications during cancer surgery, it was claimed today.
Sources at the hospital in Cuba where he is being treated told a Spanish newspaper he was showing 'very weak' vital signs, adding that doctors could decide to switch off the machines 'at any moment'.
With rumours swirling that Chavez had taken a turn for the worse, Venezuela's Vice President Nicolas Maduro said the ailing president's condition remains 'delicate' three weeks after his cancer surgery. He did not provide further information about the president's condition and told Venezuelan's to ignore speculation about his health.
'He's totally conscious of the complexity of his post-operative state and he expressly asked us ... to keep the nation informed always, always with the truth, as hard as it may be in certain circumstances,' Maduro said in the prerecorded interview in Havana, which was broadcast Tuesday night by the Caracas-based television network Telesur.
Chavez has not been seen or heard from since the December 11 operation, and officials have reported a series of ups and downs in his recovery - the most recent, on Sunday, announcing that he faced new complications from a respiratory infection.
|He can't be 'totally conscious' if he's in an induced coma...|
Maduro did not provide any new details about Chavez's complications during Tuesday's interview. But he joined other Chavez allies in urging Venezuelans to ignore gossip, saying rumors were being spread due to 'the hatred of the enemies of Venezuela.'
|The rest of the piece is Maduro spouting off. No news past this point.|
He didn't refer to any rumours in particular, though one of them has described Chavez as being in a coma.
Maduro said Chavez faces 'a complex and delicate situation'. But Maduro also said that when he talked with the president and looked at his face, he seemed to have 'the same strength as always.'
'All the time we've been hoping for his positive evolution. Sometimes he has had light improvements, sometimes stationary situations,' he said.
Maduro's remarks about the president came at the end of an interview in which he praised Venezuelan government programs at length, recalled the history of the Cuban revolution and touched on what he called the long-term strength of Chavez's socialist Bolivarian Revolution movement. He mentioned that former Cuban President Fidel Castro had been in the hospital, and praised Cuba's government effusively. 'Today we're together on a single path,' Maduro said.
Critics in Venezuela sounded off on Twitter while the interview was aired, some saying Maduro sounded like a mouthpiece for the Cuban government. In their messages, many Chavez opponents criticized Maduro for the dearth of information he provided, accusing him of withholding key details about Chavez's condition.
Chavez's political opponents have complained that the government hasn't told the country nearly enough about his health, and have demanded it provide the country with a full medical report. Even some of his supporters say they wished they knew more.
The vice president said that Chavez 'has faced an illness with courage and dignity, and he's there fighting, fighting.'
'Someone asked me yesterday by text message: How is the president? And I said, `With giant strength,"' Maduro said. He recalled taking Chavez by the hand: "He squeezed me with gigantic strength as we talked."
Posted by: Steve White 2013-01-02