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Chavez Faces Most Complex Phase of Cancer Recovery

A man walks past a mural of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in Caracas. Photographer: Raul Arboleda/AFP/Getty Images
A man walks past a mural of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez in Caracas. Photographer: Raul Arboleda/AFP/Getty Images

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez still faces the “most complex” phase of his illness after cancer surgery last month in Cuba, Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said yesterday after returning from a trip to Havana.

“The president is in the process of recovery,” Jaua said in a call to state television. “However, the battle against the most complex and profound part of the sickness is coming.”

Jaua didn’t provide details on this phase of Chavez’s recovery. He said he met with Chavez yesterday in Havana and held political and economic talks.

Chavez, 58, has not been seen or heard from since he underwent a fourth surgery for an undisclosed type of cancer Dec. 11. Venezuela will continue to inform the public about the state of Chavez’s health, Information Minister Ernesto Villegas told reporters yesterday in Caracas.

“We’ll give the good news if there is good news and the bad news if there is bad news,” Villegas said. The former paratrooper is making decisions as he receives treatment in Cuba and there is no set date for his return to Venezuela, he said.

A health report from Technology Minister Jorge Arreaza, who returned to Caracas this week after a month on the Caribbean island, “has filled us with a lot of optimism,” Villegas said.

Arreaza is Chavez’s son-in-law.

‘Climbing Back Up’

Vice President Nicolas Maduro arrived in Havana Jan. 23 to receive instructions from Chavez on a regional summit taking place this week that he and Jaua will attend.

“President Chavez is closing a post-operative cycle,” Maduro said in an interview broadcast Jan. 23 on Russian state network RT before he flew to Cuba. “He’s climbing back up the crest of the hill, battling and has lived the best days after the operation.”

Bolivian President Evo Morales said Jan. 22 Chavez is doing physiotherapy in order to return to Venezuela.

Chavez’s fragile health prevented him from attending his own swearing-in ceremony for a new term Jan. 10 after the Dec. 11 operation caused a lung infection and hemorrhaging.

Before traveling to Cuba, Chavez anointed Maduro as his successor, urging Venezuelans to vote for the 50-year-old former bus driver and labor union leader should he die or step down because of his health.

The yield on Venezuela’s benchmark 9.25 percent securities due in 2027 fell 7 basis points, or 0.07 percentage point, to 8.93 percent at 12:20 p.m. in Caracas, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The bond’s price rose 0.60 cent to 102.60 cents on the dollar.

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