Venezuela's Chavez overcomes infection, still having treatment

Sat Jan 26, 2013 7:02pm EST
 
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By Fabian Cambero and Brian Ellsworth

SANTIAGO/CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has overcome a respiratory infection, but is still being treated for breathing problems after cancer surgery in Cuba last month, a government minister said on Saturday.

Official statements have sounded upbeat about the socialist president's condition in recent weeks, following rumors he was gravely ill in a hospital in Havana and might be unable to keep governing after being re-elected in October to a third term.

"(Chavez) has overcome the respiratory infection, although he still has a certain degree of respiratory insufficiency," Information Minister Ernesto Villegas told reporters in Chile, where Latin American and European leaders are meeting.

"Vice President (Nicolas) Maduro has estimated that Chavez could come back in weeks, but we haven't wanted to put a time frame on the president's recovery," Villegas added.

Earlier on Saturday, Maduro said Chavez, 58, was in his "best moment" since his operation 45 days ago.

"What we can share with you is that the commander is in his best moment that we have seen in all of these days of struggle," Maduro said in televised comments before dawn on Saturday, after returning from Cuba to meet with the president.

Chavez has not been seen in public since undergoing his fourth and most complex surgery to treat an illness that might jeopardize the future of his self-styled revolution.

He has never said exactly what type of cancer he has, only that the initial tumor found in mid-2011 was in his pelvic area and was the size of a baseball.   Continued...

 
Supporters of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez attend a rally to commemorate the 55th anniversary of the last Venezuelan dictatorship collapse, in Caracas January 23, 2013. REUTERS/Jorge Silva