Lifestyle & Belief

Hugo Chavez's ill health and silence sparks concern in Venezuela


Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez raises a crutch after his weekly program “Alo Presidente,” in Caracas, on May 22, 2011. There is growing concern about Chavez's health two weeks after he underwent surgery in Cuba for what authorities said was a pelvic abscess.



Speculation in Venezuela is growing over President Hugo Chavez’s health, two weeks after he underwent surgery in Cuba for what was said to be a pelvic abscess.

Chavez, known for his frequent public speeches and normally an enthusiastic user of Twitter, has been largely silent since the operation. There were no new posts on his Twitter account for more than two weeks, until this weekend when posts appeared about visits from family members.

And he has not been seen apart from in photos given to the media that show Chavez being visited in hospital by Fidel and Raul Castro.

Some Chavez supporters fear that he could be seriously ill, the Associated Press reports.

On Friday, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro said that Chavez was in a "great battle" for his health.

Chavez, 56, underwent emergency surgery in Cuba on June 10 while visiting the island on an international tour. There is no indication of when he will return to Venezuela.

His extended absence has raised questions about a possible successor to Chavez, the AP reports. It is unclear who would succeed Chavez if he had to step down.

According to Venezuela's constitution, vice-president Elias Jaua would take the president's place during "temporary" absences of up to 90 days, and would serve the rest of Chavez’s term if he were to die or resign.

Jaua on Saturday worked to dampen speculation that Chavez is gravely ill.

"The national and international press are rubbing their hands and rejoicing about the state of the president's health,” he said, according to Al Jazeera.