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!"

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Executive

£15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An On-line Sales & Customer Ser...

Recruitment Genius: Accounts Assistant - Fixed Term Contract - 6 Months

£15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the largest hospitality companies...

Recruitment Genius: Electricians - Fixed Wire Testing

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: As a result of significant cont...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£16575 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An excellent opportunity is ava...

Day In a Page

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth: Would people co-operate to face down a global peril?

How to stop an asteroid hitting Earth

Would people cooperate to face a global peril?
Just one day to find €1.6bn: Greece edges nearer euro exit

One day to find €1.6bn

Greece is edging inexorably towards an exit from the euro
New 'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could help surgeons and firefighters, say scientists

'Iron Man' augmented reality technology could become reality

Holographic projections would provide extra information on objects in a person's visual field in real time
Sugary drinks 'are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year'

Sugary drinks are killing 184,000 adults around the world every year

The drinks that should be eliminated from people's diets
Pride of Place: Historians map out untold LGBT histories of locations throughout UK

Historians map out untold LGBT histories

Public are being asked to help improve the map
Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

Lionel, Patti, Burt and The Who rock Glasto

This was the year of 24-carat Golden Oldies
Paris Fashion Week

Paris Fashion Week

Thom Browne's scarecrows offer a rare beacon in commercial offerings
A year of the caliphate:

Isis, a year of the caliphate

Who can defeat the so-called 'Islamic State' – and how?
Marks and Spencer: Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?

Marks and Spencer

Can a new team of designers put the spark back into the high-street brand?
'We haven't invaded France': Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak

'We haven't invaded France'

Italy's Prime Minister 'reclaims' Europe's highest peak
Isis in Kobani: Why we ignore the worst of the massacres

Why do we ignore the worst of the massacres?

The West’s determination not to offend its Sunni allies helps Isis and puts us all at risk, says Patrick Cockburn
7/7 bombings 10 years on: Four emergency workers who saved lives recall the shocking day that 52 people were killed

Remembering 7/7 ten years on

Four emergency workers recall their memories of that day – and reveal how it's affected them ever since
Humans: Are the scientists developing robots in danger of replicating the hit Channel 4 drama?

They’re here to help

We want robots to do our drudge work, and to look enough like us for comfort. But are the scientists developing artificial intelligence in danger of replicating the TV drama Humans?
Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

Time to lay these myths about the Deep South to rest

'Heritage' is a loaded word in the Dixie, but the Charleston killings show how dangerous it is to cling to a deadly past, says Rupert Cornwell
What exactly does 'one' mean? Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue

What exactly does 'one' mean?

Court of Appeal passes judgement on thorny mathematical issue