Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez appears to be recovering from the lung infection he contracted after undergoing surgery in Cuba, the government says — news that may at least partially quell speculation that his political career is over.
"Despite his delicate state ... in recent days the general medical evolution has been favorable," wrote the Venezuelan government in a recent health update, according to Reuters, which added that although Chavez is conscious, he still requires help to "solve breathing insufficiency."
The 58-year-old Venezuelan leader has suffered from cancer for years, and has not been seen by the public since his surgery a month ago, even missing the set date of his own second inauguration. The ceremony has been rescheduled, in spite of protest by the opposition.
Speculation is rampant over what might happen in says the South American nation if Chavez is forced to step down, and it remains somewhat unclear who is running the country in his absence.
GlobalPost's Caracas correspondent Girish Gupta says the government's statements have done little to quell the rumor mill.
"It's very difficult to ascertain how truthful the comments from the government are and I think most Venezuelans would like to see some sort of proof of life — a phone call to state television or appearance on it as is usual for the president when in these periods of convalescence," Gupta said.
"The opposition is questioning the legality of Chavez not having been inaugurated last week and who, exactly, is governing the country. It does not help the government that so many high-ranking members are in Havana right now," he added.
He was referring to top officials including Vice President Nicolas Maduro, congress leader Diosdado Cabello and Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez, who all are in Havana this week to check on the president, the BBC reported.
Former Chavez deputy Elias Jaua insisted to Sky News earlier this month that Chavez is "fighting for his life," adding that the situation is "complex and delicate."
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Girish Gupta contributed reporting from Caracas. Follow him @jammastergirish.