Hugo Chavez in 'critical' condition in Cuban hospital
Controversial Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, is said to be in a ''critical'' condition in a Cuban hospital, following emergency surgery earlier in the month.
Speculation that the 56-year-old is suffering from prostate cancer has mounted in recent weeks, but his government has denied this, and said he is being treated for a “pelvic condition”.
It is reported that his daughter Rosines, and his mother, Marisabel Rodriguez, were "urgently" flown in to Cuba in an air force plane on Friday to be by his bedside.
There had been no communication from the radical left-wing Venezuelan president since he underwent surgery on June 10 until this weekend, when messages appeared on his Twitter account. In the interim 25 people were killed in prison riots in Carasas.
Nicholas Maduro, the Venezuelan foreign minister, fuelled speculation on Friday saying: "The battle that President Chavez is waging for his health must be everyone's battle: the battle for life, for the immediate future of our fatherland."
The situation has led to questions about what would happen if Chavez could no longer govern, with no potential successor coming close to matching his personality.