Venezuela’s Chavez Suffers Respiratory Infection After Surgery

Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez suffered a respiratory infection after cancer surgery in Cuba that was treated by doctors and controlled on Dec. 17, Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said yesterday.

Chavez is currently in stable condition, Villegas said in a national address on television and radio.

“The medical team said the president should have absolute rest in the coming days and receive the prescribed treatment with the greatest rigor to maintain stability of his vital signs,” he said. “This is typical of patients who have undergone serious surgery, as President Chavez did.”

Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro said on Dec. 13 that Chavez suffered complications including bleeding after having a fourth surgery in 18 months for an undisclosed form of cancer on Dec. 11. Chavez, 58, may not be well again in time to be sworn in for a third term on Jan. 10, Villegas said on Dec. 12.

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 must call for an election within 30 days. Chavez said on Dec. 9 that Venezuelans should elect Maduro as his successor if he is prevented from completing the third, six-year term he won in elections in October.

Baseball-Sized Tumor

Chavez first told Venezuelans he had cancer in June 2011 after undergoing surgery in Cuba to drain an abscess from his pelvic area during which he said doctors discovered a baseball- sized tumor in the same area.

Diosdado Cabello, president of the National Assembly and a close ally of Chavez, said yesterday that 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 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 other details of Chavez’s recovery from cancer surgery.

The socialist party Chavez leads, known as PSUV, won governorships in 20 of 23 states in regional elections held on Dec. 16. Maduro said on Dec. 17 that he had not spoken to Chavez about the results of the election.

Venezuelan dollar bonds have returned 45.6 percent in 2012 as investors speculated that Chavez would not be able to complete his term, the second-biggest return in emerging markets after the Ivory Coast, according to JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s EMBI Global index.

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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