Venezuela's Chavez suffers complications after surgery

Thu Dec 13, 2012 4:04pm EST
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By Brian Ellsworth and Daniel Wallis

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela's Hugo Chavez suffered bleeding after a six-hour cancer operation in Cuba, the government said on Thursday, adding to a stream of somber news about the ailing president's condition.

Chavez's health has worsened dramatically since he won re-election two months ago, casting doubt on the future of his "21st century socialism" project, which won him huge support among the poor but infuriated adversaries who call him a fledgling dictator.

Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said doctors used "corrective measures" to stop the bleeding that resulted from the 58-year-old Chavez's cancer surgery on Tuesday.

It was his fourth operation since mid-2011. He claimed he was cured earlier this year, and was able to campaign for the election in October, but now appears to be fighting for his life again.

"This process of recovery will take time because of the complexity of the operation," Villegas said in a broadcast on national television, adding that Chavez's condition had improved.

"The patient is in a progressive and favorable recovery of normal vital signs." He did not provide further details.

The ashen faces of cabinet ministers and somber tone of their terse official statements since Tuesday's surgery appear to suggest top government officials are preparing for the worst.

The president has refused to divulge the details of the cancer diagnosed in June last year. He has had four operations since then.   Continued...

Sheikh Nasef, the Muslim imam of the Mosque of Managua, speaks during a mass to pray for the health of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez in Managua December 12, 2012. Chavez is in stable condition after his cancer operation in Cuba, Venezuela's Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said on Wednesday. REUTERS/Oswaldo Rivas