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Venezuela’s Maduro Arrives in Cuba to Visit Ailing Chavez

Jan. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro arrived in Havana today to visit President Hugo Chavez, who hasn’t been seen in public for a month since going to the Caribbean island for a fourth cancer operation.

Maduro was met at the Jose Marti airport by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, Cuba Debate reported on its website.

“I’m going to continue with the work we do by visiting with the family, medical team and our president,” Maduro said earlier today from Caracas in comments broadcast on state television.

Tens of thousands of Venezuelans took a symbolic oath of loyalty to Chavez and the “right to build socialism in our country” in Caracas yesterday, the date the ailing leader was supposed to be sworn in for a new six-year term. They were joined by officials from 27 Caribbean and Latin American nations, including Bolivian President Evo Morales and Nicaragua’s Daniel Ortega.

Venezuela’s Supreme Court on Jan. 9 approved a delay to the swearing in ceremony, saying it was a mere formality. The ruling means that Maduro, Chavez’s handpicked successor, will continue to run affairs in South America’s biggest oil exporter for the foreseeable future.

The government last provided an update on Chavez’s health on Jan. 7. Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said Chavez’s condition is stable after the government reported he had trouble breathing due to a lung infection. Villegas didn’t provide additional details.

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner arrived in Havana today to visit Chavez’s family members, Maduro said. Fernandez planned on having lunch with former Cuban leader Fidel Castro and his brother, President Raul Castro, the Argentine state news agency Telam reported.

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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