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Chavez Death Speculation Not True, Venezuela Government Says

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April 22 (Bloomberg) -- Venezuela’s government denied speculation of President Hugo Chavez’s death as the leader’s nine-day absence from television screens fueled talk that his poor health may prevent him from running in October’s election.

Information Minister Andres Izarra, writing on Twitter, said opposition candidate Henrique Capriles Radonski was the “political fatality” and that the speculation had been “denied.”

“These bitter people don’t learn, they’ve been saying for days that the commander died, while the only one without life is” Capriles, Diosdado Cabello, head of the National Assembly, wrote on his Twitter account.

Chavez missed the Summit of the Americas in Colombia and Venezuela’s Constitution Day celebrations in the past week after flying to Cuba for cancer treatments. His absence from television is the longest since at least November.

Chavez hasn’t spoken publicly since a speech April 13 in Caracas. Instead, he has sent messages from his Twitter account. The 57-year-old leader has undergone three operations in Cuba since June.

Capriles used his Twitter account to question Chavez’s absence, writing today, “The country and the problems of Venezuelans can’t be resolved over Twitter!”

Chavez will return to the South American country next week after completing radiation therapy in Cuba, Cabello said April 20 on state television.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jose Orozco in Caracas at jorozco8@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Joshua Goodman at jgoodman19@bloomberg.net

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