Venezuela’s cancer-stricken President Hugo Chavez is still suffering respiratory problems after surgery in Cuba two months ago, the government has said in a sombre first communiqué since his homecoming this week.
Struggling to talk and breathing through a tracheal tube, the 58-year-old socialist leader is being treated at a Caracas military hospital after returning unseen before dawn on Monday.
Long accustomed to the drama and speculation over Mr Chavez’s health since cancer was first detected in June 2011, Venezuelans are now debating whether he can recover and return to active rule or if he will resign and try to ensure his Vice-President wins a vote. Some think he may have simply returned home to die.
“The breathing insufficiency that emerged post-operation persists and the tendency has not been favourable, so it is still being treated,” Information Minister Ernesto Villegasread said, reading the communiqué’s gloomy news for Mr Chavez’s millions of passionate supporters.