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'Complex and tough' treatments for Chavez

14 February 2013, 13:50

Caracas - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is undergoing "extremely complex and tough" treatments following cancer surgery, his vice president said on Wednesday.

It was the first time that the government described Chavez's latest treatment following his surgery in those terms. The government has not given details about what sort of treatments Chavez is now undergoing in Havana, more than two months after his fourth cancer-related surgery on December 11.

"You all know that we've gone through extremely complex moments in December, you remember, in January. Later, the whole post-operative cycle concluded.

And today our commander is receiving complementary treatments, as we have said, extremely complex and tough treatments," Vice President Nicolas Maduro said on television, without giving details.

"He is carrying out, let's say, assimilating as he would say, in the spirit of battle, but they're complex treatments... that should at some point begin to close the cycle of treatment of his illness," Maduro said. "We have passed along to him all the strength ... and all the love of the Venezuelan people."

Chavez not seen in public

Maduro spoke after returning on Wednesday from a trip to Cuba, where Chavez continues to receive medical care. Maduro said he had met with the president's doctors and relatives. He said that the president's elder brother, Adan, had also returned from Cuba to Venezuela on Wednesday.

Chavez hasn't been seen or spoken publicly since December 10, when he travelled to Havana for the operation.

Venezuelans on both sides of the country's political divide have been speculating about the socialist leader's condition amid vague reports about his health, and Maduro's latest remarks seemed likely to feed more speculation.

In other recent updates, government officials have expressed hope of Chavez returning home. In his latest comments, Maduro didn't mention that.

Bolivian President Evo Morales had said on January 22 that Chavez was "receiving physical therapy" so that he could return home to Venezuela. Morales also said at the time that he hoped to see his friend and ally attending "international events" soon.

Cancer therapy

Venezuelan Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said on January 26 that during the surgery a "malignant lesion" was removed from Chavez's pelvis and that his recovery has been favourable. Villegas also said that Chavez had begun "systemic medical treatment for the fundamental illness."

Medical experts consulted by The Associated Press have said the government's account of "systemic medical treatment" could mean various types of chemotherapy or drug treatments, depending on the type of cancer.

Chavez has had tumours repeatedly removed from his pelvic region, and has also undergone prior rounds of chemotherapy and radiation treatment. The 58-year-old president hasn't revealed the type of the cancer or the precise location of the tumours removed.



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