Venezuela's Maduro to nation: pray for recovering Chavez, 'hard days' ahead


A woman walks by graffiti depicting Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in Caracas on April 24, 2012.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez needs prayers after undergoing a "difficult" cancer surgery in Cuba, Vice President Nicolas Maduro told the nation today, according to BBC News

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Maduro's remarks were less optimistic than his post-surgery comments late Tuesday, in which he said the six-hour operation was tough, but "fortunately our commander’s gigantic humanity once again demonstrates its fortitude," reported The New York Times.  

Speaking in Caracas, Madura today called on Venezuelans to offer up prays for their 58-year-old leader, said BBC, warning of "hard days" ahead. 

‘‘It was a complex, difficult, delicate operation,’’ Maduro emphasized, adding, ‘‘the post-operative process is also going to be a complex and hard process," reported the Associated Press

Also today, information minister Ernesto Villegas said Chavez may not be well enough by January 10, when the longtime Venezuelan leader was expected to take on another presidential term, said Bloomberg.

“We trust that, with the love of millions, the comandante will recover soon and take command before Jan. 10,” Bloomberg quoted Villegas as saying. “But if that’s not the case, people should be ready to understand. It would be irresponsible to hide the delicacy of the current situation and the days that lie ahead.”

Villegas also reportedly tweeted a warning, saving if Chavez isn't ready, "our people should be prepared to understand it," according to AP

Ecuador's President Rafael Correa told Reuters on Tuesday that the operation would be "one of the toughest times of [Chavez's] life."

The surgery was the Venezuelan leader's third in some 18 months, according to the NYT.

He has refused to detail his cancer diagnosis but recently announced Maduro as his chosen successor in the first sign of a possible contingency plan.