Chavez supporters deny health scare

President Hugo Chavez's government has told Venezuelans to ignore claims that his health may be worse than disclosed by officials, following cancer surgery in Cuba.

Despite an upbeat assessment of his latest operation by supporters, some sources, including a prominent pro-opposition journalist, suggest the socialist leader, 57, may face a life-threatening spread of the cancer found last year. "Our people should not pay attention to these rumours. We are going through a very emotional time," said Isis Ochoa, the Minister for Social Protection. "People should keep trusting their leaders." The government blamed Venezuela's "ultra-right" for fomenting speculation that Mr Chavez's health was worsening.