Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez is not 'fighting for his life' in hospital as he goes through chemotherapy following his fourth cancer operation in December, his deputy has said.
The country's vice president, Nicolas Maduro, appeared on television on Thursday to discuss the president's condition, before attending a mass at the Caracas Military Hospital, where Chavez is currently receiving treatment.
The president was flown home from Cuba last month, where he had been receiving specialist treatment for his unknown form of cancer.
Leaving the service on Friday, which was also attended by one of Chavez's daughters, Maduro said: "The treatments Commander Chavez is receiving are tough, but he is stronger than them."
Chavez and his vice president, Nicolas Maduro
However, the Venezuelan government have received criticism for the handling of Chavez's health, which resulted in protests on Friday from angered citizens demanding honest discussion of the state of the 58-year-old.
According to CNN, Venezuelan students were camped out on the streets, while others chained themselves together in protest.
Chavez was reelected in October despite his condition but has yet to be officially inaugurated due to his illness.
The BBC have reported that more than half of the Venezuelan public believe the president will recover from his condition and reclaim office.