Wednesday 17 January 2018

Chavez supporters stage rallies

A man holds a framed image of Hugo Chavez after attending a mass to pray for the president (AP)
A man holds a framed image of Hugo Chavez after attending a mass to pray for the president (AP)

Thousands of supporters of Venezuela's cancer-stricken president have held rallies across the nation, hours before the government announced that Hugo Chavez is responding favourably to treatment for a respiratory infection.

The rallies came amid complaints by the opposition that it was unconstitutional for the government to indefinitely postpone the socialist leader's inauguration, which had been set for last Thursday.

The opposition also has been demanding the government provide more information about Mr Chavez's medical condition.

Venezuelan authorities have said Mr Chavez is suffering from a severe respiratory infection that he contracted after undergoing a fourth round of surgery on December 11 in Cuba for a cancer in the pelvic area first diagnosed on June 8, 2011.

Information minister Ernesto Villegas said that Mr Chavez is conscious and responding to treatment for the respiratory infection at a Cuban hospital, although he gave no specifics of Mr Chavez's treatment or condition.

"The respiratory infection is under control," but Mr Chavez "still requires specific measures for a solution to respiratory insufficiency", he said, reading a statement on state television.

"The president is conscious, communicating with his family, his political team and the medical team treating him," Mr Villegas said.

Mr Chavez, who was re-elected on October 7, has not spoken publicly or been seen since the operation, leading to anxiety among Venezuelans about the country. If he is unable to take office, Venezuela's constitution says new elections must be called within 30 days.

On Saturday, Mr Villegas said that vice president Nicolas Maduro, who has been designated by Mr Chavez as his successor, had met with Venezuela's leader since flying to Cuba on Friday.

"Maduro reports that he gave the president a report about the demonstrations of the people's support," Mr Villegas said in a message posted on Twitter.

Press Association

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