Chavez recovering after cancer op
Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez is recovering after a successful cancer operation in Cuba, his vice president has said.
Vice President Nicolas Maduro said the surgery was both "complex" and successful. He made the announcement on Venezuelan television, flanked by other Chavez aides and military commanders.
It was the fourth cancer-related operation that Mr Chavez has undergone since June 2011. Three days before the surgery, Mr Chavez had announced that he needed to have surgery again after tests showed "some malignant cells" had reappeared in the same area of his pelvic region where tumours were previously removed.
During the surgery, close Chavez ally Tareck El Aissami had said on television: "Everything is going well."
On the streets of Caracas, Venezuelans on both sides of the country's deep political divide voiced concerns about Mr Chavez's condition and what might happen if he ultimately does not survive his illness.
"It's difficult to think about Venezuela without Chavez," said Rafael Perdomo, a mechanic who has supported the president since 1998, when he first ran for the presidency. "I fear that we, the poor, could lose everything if Chavez dies."
Mr Chavez recently said for the first time that if his illness cuts short his presidency, Vice President Nicolas Maduro should take his place and be elected president to continue on with his socialist movement.
Some government supporters held a prayer meeting in a Caracas plaza while the surgery was under way, joining hands and singing hymns. Some held up posters of Chavez as they sang. "We ask God, to allow him to live," said Carmen Romero, who participated in the gathering.
Mr Chavez received a flurry of get-well messages from leaders across Latin America, including the presidents of Chile, Peru and other countries. Ecuadorean president Rafael Correa, who visited Mr Chavez in Havana on Monday, said his ally was undergoing a "very delicate operation",
"He's passing through one of the hardest moments of his life. Our heart and our solidarity are with a historic president," Mr Correa said at an event Tuesday in the Ecuadorean city of Tulcan. Mr Chavez had said the surgery would present risks. But afterwards Mr Maduro said that Mr Chavez had been moved to a room to recover and begin "special treatments".