Venezuela's Maduro to visit Chavez again in Cuba

Fri Jan 11, 2013 4:00pm EST
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By Daniel Wallis and Diego Ore

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela's Vice President Nicolas Maduro will fly to Cuba on Friday to visit cancer-stricken Hugo Chavez, a month after the socialist leader underwent his fourth operation in 18 months.

The 58-year-old president has neither been seen nor heard from since the surgery, and he has suffered multiple post-operative complications including a severe lung infection.

He missed his own inauguration on Thursday, but the Supreme Court said he could be sworn in later - in theory meaning he could remain in office for weeks or months from a Havana hospital. There has been no firm evidence he is conscious.

"I'm going to give our commander-president the good news about how the people are working, making revolution with courage, discipline and enthusiasm," Maduro said in a televised broadcast.

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez, a friend and ally of Venezuela's socialist leader, arrived in Cuba on Friday and said she planned to take Chavez a Bible.

Talking to reporters at Havana's landmark Hotel Nacional, she said she would have lunch with President Raul Castro and his older brother and predecessor, Fidel Castro, and then expected to meet members of Chavez's family.

"This is not a visit for making comments or giving interviews but simply of solidarity and fellowship with someone who is a friend," Fernandez said.

Peru's President Ollanta Humala - whom Maduro called another "comrade in arms" of the Venezuelan president - also visited the Cuban capital on Friday.   Continued...

Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro speaks during a rally in support of President Hugo Chavez in Caracas January 10, 2013. REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins