Hugo Chavez, the 58-year-old is suffering from a newly diagnosed, severe respiratory infection, which followed cancer surgery. The county’s information minister, Ernesto Villegas, said late Monday.
Chavez made a surprise homecoming two weeks ago, with none of the fanfare and celebration that accompanied previous returns from treatment in Havana. Last month after being treated for cancer in Cuba, but has not appeared in public since.
“His general state of health continues to be very delicate,” Mr. Villegas said. “Today, there exists a worsening of the respiratory functions…. Right now, he has presented with a new and severe infection,” the minister added.
Many Venezuelans have been demanding full details about his health.
“The president has been receiving high-impact chemotherapy, along with other complementary treatments… but his general state of health is very delicate.”
Officials have never identified the specific type of cancer Mr. Chávez is battling and few details are publicly known, about his medical condition. Mr. Villegas read out the latest brief update on national television.
Mr. 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, due to illness.
Chavez suffered multiple complications after the, December 11 surgery, including unexpected bleeding and an earlier severe respiratory infection that officials said was under control.
Nearly 58% of Venezuelans believed Chávez would recover while about 30% believed he would not return to power and 12.5% said they did not know what would happen. Meanwhile, 1% believed Chávez was never sick.
On Friday, top government officials gathered at the military hospital where Mr. Chávez is being treated, to inaugurate a chapel and hold a service in his honor.
The government is furious at rumors in recent days that Chavez might have died, blaming them on an opposition plot by “far-right fascists” to destabilize the OPEC nation, which boasts the world’s biggest oil reserves.
Opposition leaders have accused Maduro of repeatedly lying, about the president’s real condition. Several dozen anti-government student protesters, have chained themselves up in public to demand proof that Chavez is alive, and in Venezuela.
The stakes are also high for the rest of Latin America. Chavez has been the most vocal critic of Washington in the region, and has funded hefty aid programs for leftist governments from Bolivia to Cuba.
On 15 February, the government released four photographs of Chávez lying in a bed in Cuba with his two daughters by his side. They were the only images of him published since early December.
According to ABC, Chavez was secretly transferred last week to the Caribbean island of La Orchila. The remote island is only inhabited by a few Venezuelan sailors who run a naval base there.
“The government has sent permanent messages, that President Chávez will return, that he will meet with the vice-president for five hours,” Leon noted.