Venezuela’s Chavez Stable After Respiratory Infection

Venezuela’s Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said President Hugo Chavez is in “stable” condition after his medical team yesterday controlled a respiratory infection.

“The medical team has said that President Chavez should have absolute rest in the coming days and receive the prescribed treatment with the greatest rigor,” Villegas said in a national address.

Diosdado Cabello, president of the National Assembly and a close ally of Chavez, said he expects the president to be sworn in for a new term next month, dismissing speculation that the ailing leader would skip a planned inauguration while he battles cancer in Cuba.

“We don’t have any other scenarios,” Cabello said today on state television. “There is a date established in the constitution. We want the president to recover and be healthy, and God willing, that’s how it will be.”

Cabello didn’t give any details of Chavez’s recovery from cancer surgery in Cuba on Dec. 11.

Before the president departed for Havana, he urged Venezuelans to elect Vice President Nicolas Maduro should he be unable to take office or fulfill his term. Under Venezuelan law, if Chavez steps down before his new term begins on Jan. 10, Maduro would see out the rest of the current term and then hand over power to the National Assembly president, who would have to call an election within 30 days.

Chavez, 58, suffered complications due to bleeding during the six-hour surgery and his recovery won’t be immediate, Maduro said on Dec. 13.

The socialist party Chavez leads, known as PSUV, won governorships in 20 of 23 states in regional elections held on Dec. 17.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jose Orozco in Caracas at; Nathan Crooks in Caracas at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Joshua Goodman at

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