CARACAS — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is “battling for his health, for his life”, his deputy Nicolas Maduro says.
“Our commander is sick because he gave his life for those who don’t have anything,” he said on Venezuelan TV.
Chavez has not been seen in public since he had further cancer surgery in Cuba in December and is reported to have a severe a respiratory infection.
The government has previously said Chavez, now back in Venezuela, is running the country from the hospital.
Chavez, who has been in office for 14 years, is believed to have cancer in his pelvic area but his exact illness has never been disclosed.
He was re-elected for another six-year term in October 2012, but the Supreme Court ruled that his swearing-in could be delayed because of his illness.
Speaking yesterday, Maduro said the president “didn’t take care of his health because he gave his body and soul” to the people.
“He’s battling for his life, for his health, and we are there with him,” he said.
The government has said that Chavez, who is breathing with the help of a tracheal tube, is writing orders and meeting senior ministers from his sickbed at a military hospital in Caracas.
Chavez returned from Cuba in mid-February, sending a series of celebratory tweets thanking his Cuban hosts for their help and his fellow Venezuelans for their support.
The week before, images were released of him smiling in his hospital bed during a visit from his daughters, but little has been heard of him since.
Government officials have spoken before of Chavez’s “great battle” for life but Maduro’s latest comment comes amid an upsurge in rumours and speculation about the president’s health. (BBC)