Chavez not dead or dying, say allies


Rumours of the impending demise of Hugo Chavez have been greatly exaggerated, his allies said yesterday, insisting that he will be back at work imminently and telling opponents that they should "stop dreaming" of his death.

The Venezuelan President, who is famed for his regular TV appearances and enthusiatic speech-making, has not been seen or heard from in public since he travelled to a hospital Cuba for a June 10th operation to remove what official sources described as a “pelvic swelling.”

His unaccustomed silence has prompted rumours that the 56-year-old left-winger, who faces a grueling re-election battle next year, may have fallen seriously ill, possibly with prostate cancer. At the weekend, the Nuevo Herald, a Spanish-language sister publication to the Miami Herald read largely by Cuban ex-pats said he was in a “critical condition.” The Argentinian offshoot of Wikileaks meanwhile claimed on Twitter to have intelligence that he’d died from a heart attack.

Addressing both reports, the country’s Vice Foreign Minister, Temir Porras, yesterday used his own Twitter account to insist that Chavez was alive and well and would be properly back in the saddle in time for a regional summit which will co-incide with the 200th anniversary of Venezuela’s independence next Tuesday.

“President Chavez is recovering well from his surgery. His enemies should stop dreaming and his friends should stop worrying," read one Tweet. "The only thing that has metastasized is the cancer of the Miami Herald and the rest of the right-wing press,” read another.

US intelligence sources quoted by wire agencies said they had no firm information as to the President’s condition. The country’s Vice President Elias Jaua meanwhile claimed: “the national and international right-wing are going crazy, rubbing their hands together, even talking about the death of the president… They know they cannot win elections against our comandante.”

In an indication that all may not be entirely well, however, Chavez’s usually mild-mannered older brother Adan used a prayer meeting in his home state of Barinas to raise the prospect of armed insurrection if his United Socialist Party fails to hang onto power at next year’s elections.

"It would be inexcusable to limit ourselves to only the electoral and not see other forms of struggle, including the armed struggle," he said, quoting Che Guevara. "As authentic revolutionaries, we cannot forget other forms of fighting."

The confusion surrounding Chavez’s health recalls the Cold War era, when communist regimes were wary of briefing the public about medical condition of their leaders. Since Chavez has no obvious successor, there are also fears that his death would destabilize Veueuzela, one of Latin America’s biggest oil producers.

With this in mind, the leading opposition politician, Henrique Capriles Radonski, said yesterday that he wants to face a fit and healthy opponent at next year’s elections. He added that secrecy regarding his condition could be ploy to maximise political sympathy from a "triumphant" return to health.

“There's been a great lack of information. And it looks deliberate," Capriles told Reuters. "I picture him coming back saying the 'gringo' media had him dead and the Venezuelan opposition wished his death. It's quite the reverse, and I say it as an aspirant to the post."

Chavez has 1.6 million followers on Twitter. Though several messages were posted on his account on Friday, none referred to his health. And there is no way of knowing who actually wrote them. One did, however, express excitement that his daughter Rosines and grandchildren had flown to Cuba to visit him. "Ah, what happiness to receive this bath of love! God blesses me!"

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Rita Ora will replace Kylie Minogue as a judge on The Voice 2015
Life and Style
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
Tennis player Andy Murray's mum Judy has been paired with Anton du Beke for Strictly Come Dancing. 'I'm absolutely delighted,' she said.
tvJudy Murray 'struggling' to let Anton Du Beke take control on Strictly
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

English teachers required in Lowestoft

£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Qualified English tea...

Business Development Director - Interior Design

£80000 - £100000 per annum + competitive + bonus + benefits: Sauce Recruitment...

Sales Director, Media Sponsorship

£60000 - £65000 per annum: Sauce Recruitment: A globally successful media and ...

Head of Affiliate Sales for Emerging Markets

competitive + benefits: Sauce Recruitment: Are you looking for your next role ...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits