Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is on artificial respiration after undergoing a tracheotomy last week, according to reports out of Cuba.
Chávez, 58, has been suffering from complications after his fourth surgery in Havana, Cuba, to treat cancer, the Madrid, Spain-based publication ABC said.
It said doctors performed the tracheotomy after a respiratory infection blocked Chávez's breathing.
The procedure involves opening a hole in the neck so the patient can breathe without using the nose or mouth.
In the interim, Venezuelan Vice-President Nicolás Maduro, who is acting as president, said Chávez's condition is becoming increasingly stable. "Each day that passes, his recovery is more stable and he's receiving the best treatment," Maduro told a crowd of government supporters in Yaracuy state on Saturday.
Earlier, Maduro said Chávez was likely to face a 'complex and difficult' recovery after undergoing surgery here for recurring cancer, casting doubt on the president's ability to take office on January 10.
Maduro said the surgery had been "complex, difficult (and) delicate," but that Chávez was recovering.
"We trust that, with the help of God, we are going to be victorious," he said. "And that sooner rather than later, we will have our president here." said Maduro.