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Venezuela’s Vice-President Demands “Respect” for Chávez’s Health

Mérida, 3rd November 2012 ( – Venezuelan vice-president Nicolas Maduro demanded “respect” for President Hugo Chavez’s health, claiming that the Venezuelan opposition is trying to take political advantage of Chavez’s latest health visit to Cuba.

Chavez arrived in Cuba last Wednesday morning after requesting permission from the National Assembly to go to Havana for hyperbaric oxygen therapy treatment (HBOT) as part of his on-going recovery from cancer. HBOT is often used to help repair bone and tissue damaged by radiotherapy treatment.

The Venezuelan president has undergone three operations for cancer since mid-2011. In July of this year he announced that he was completely cured, but would need to continue recovering from treatment and look after his health.

Since Chavez announced his trip to Cuba last week, some members of the Venezuelan opposition and private and international media have launched a new wave of speculation over the state of the president’s health.

Last Thursday, Fox News published an article covering a report in Spanish newspaper ABC, which cited an “unnamed intelligence source” that claimed that Chavez was suffering from bone metastasis, an advanced form of cancer.

Meanwhile, opposition mayor of Metropolitan Caracas, Antonio Ledezma, declared yesterday that there is a “power vacuum” in Venezuela due to Chavez’s absence. “The president is in the hands of a foreign government, being treated by foreign doctors, when the country needs the management of a responsible government,” he said.

The opposition leader continued, “It’s such [a vacuum] that the minister of defence hasn’t even been sworn in. In whose hands are we?”

Vice-president Maduro responded to such comments from the opposition yesterday, accusing them of trying to “demoralise” the Venezuelan people.

“When we have the human misery of this right-wing [opposition] messing with the life of another human being, one feels indignation,” he told a crowd of Chavez-supporters at an event ahead of state elections on 16 December.

Maduro emphasised that Chavez was being treated by both Cuban and Venezuelan doctors, and that the treatment was part of “an exact and perfect plan for the full recovery of his health…to return and govern these six years with more strength, maturity and wisdom”.

The vice-president also argued that by continuing treatment Chavez was fulfilling his promise to the Venezuelan people during his campaign for re-election as president, to take better care of his health.

“He’s fulfilling in Cuba the mandate that the people gave him on 7 October,” Maduro stated.

Chavez announced the designation of 15 new Venezuelan ambassadors today, according to minister of communication Ernesto Villegas. The Venezuelan president is expected to return to Venezuela in time for 10 January, to present the Socialist Plan of the Nation 2013 -2019 to the National Assembly and begin his new presidential term.

Published on Dec 3rd 2012 at 11.48pm