Venezuelan officials for the first time this week acknowledged that President Hugo Chavez is undergoing chemotherapy treatments for the cancer he has been battling for nearly two years.
Vice President Nicolas Maduro announced that Chavez “continues his battle for life,” after a mass for Chavez in a new chapel outside the military hospital where authorities say the president has been since he was flown back to Caracas Feb. 18.
Maduro said Chavez returned to Venezuela because he was entering “a new phase” of “more intense and tough” treatments and wanted to be in Caracas for them.
Just hours earlier, opposition leader Henrique Capriles, who lost to Chavez in the Oct. 7 election, posted a tweet accusing the government of lying about Chavez’s condition.
“We’ll see how they explain to the country in the [coming] days all the lies they have been telling about the president’s situation,” Capriles wrote.
In his update, Maduro said, “In mid-January he was improving, the infection could be controlled, but he continued with problems of respiratory insufficiency. Afterwards, there was a general improvement, and the doctors along with President Chávez decided to initiate complementary treatments. You know what the complementary treatments are, right? They are chemotherapy that is applied to patients after operations.”
Venezuelans who hoped that the return of their beloved leader from Cuba after two months would mean a return to normalcy, are surely disappointed that Chavez apparently is still suffering.
There were reports that Chavez was struggling to overcome a serious lung infection and had to breathe through a tracheal tube, making it difficult for him to speak.
The question for Venezuelans is, if Chavez is sitting up in a Caracas hospital — if in fact he is in Caracas — is he able to govern?
“Is Chavez here to die? Is Chavez here to support Maduro for a new election? Is Chavez here to return to power?” Luis Vicente Leon, a Caracas-based political pollster, said in a report by GlobalPost run on Salon.com.
Some conspiracy-minded Venezuelans allege that the Castro brothers in Cuba running Venezuela behind the scenes. It has always been a fear during Chavez’s 14 years in power that Venezuela, owner of the world’s largest oil reserves, was becoming a Communist puppet.