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Hugo Chavez fighting lung infection


Venezuela's ailing President Hugo Chavez is being treated for a respiratory deficiency after complications from a severe lung infection, the government said today.

Information minister Ernesto Villegas provided the update on the president's condition, reading from a statement saying that Mr Chavez's lung infection had led to "respiratory deficiency" and required strict compliance with his medical treatment.

The government expressed confidence in the medical team in Cuba treating Mr Chavez, who is battling cancer and has undergone four operations.

Mr Chavez, 58, has not been seen or heard from since his December 11 cancer surgery, and speculation has grown that his illness could be reaching its final stages.

The president's elder brother Adan and National Assembly president Diosdado Cabello joined a parade of visitors who saw Mr Chavez in Havana this week, and then returned to Caracas yesterday along with vice president Nicolas Maduro.

Mr Chavez's health crisis has raised contentious questions ahead of his swearing-in for a new presidential term set for January 10, including whether the inauguration could legally be postponed, Supreme Court justices might travel to Havana to administer the oath of office, and, most of all, what will happen if Mr Chavez cannot begin his new term.