Hugo Chavez Cancer Condition 'Delicate' After 'Complex' Surgery In Cuba

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is in a "delicate and complex" condition after undergoing cancer surgery in Cuba three weeks ago.

Vice president Nicolas Maduro told Latin American satellite network Telesur: "We have faith in God and in the doctors that Hugo Chavez will continue to make progress," reports the BBC.

Sources at the Cuban hospital painted a bleaker picture, telling a Spanish newspaper the president is only being kept alive by life support which could be turned off "at any moment", the Daily Mail said.

Chavez underwent his latest surgery on 11 December

Maduro was been keen to quash "sick lies and rumours" the president is close to death, the Daily Telegraph reported.

He said: "What is behind the ill-intentioned rumors? It is the evil and hatred of the enemies of Venezuela, they are people who anybody could describe as mentally ill, sick with hatred, sick with evil."

He added Chavez had demanded to "keep the people informed, always with the truth no matter how hard it might be in a given circumstance".

Maduro said when visting Chavez in hospital, the president had been lucid enough to discuss political matters and gripped his hand "with enormous strength".

Supporters of the president on New Year's Eve

Chavez, 58, has been suffering from an undisclosed form of cancer in his pelvic region and has undergone four operations along with chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Chavez was re-elected in October and is due to be sworn in on January 10. It is not known if he will make the inauguration.

Venezuela has been ruled by Chavez since 1999 when he swept to power and initiated a "socialist" revolution, a reformist programme financed by the country's oil wealth.

Support for Chavez comes mostly from the country's lower classes who see him as a hero fighting for the masses.

Critics however, view him as a dictator, initiating many reforms designed simply to entrench his rule.

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