AP) — Venezuela's vice president Nicolas Maduro is returning home today from a visit with Hugo Chavez in Cuba and says the ailing president's condition remains "delicate" three weeks after his cancer surgery.
With rumors swirling that Chavez had taken a turn for the worse, Maduro said Tuesday that he had met with the president twice and had spoken with him.
"He's totally conscious of the complexity of his post-operative state and he expressly asked us ... to keep the nation informed always, always with the truth, as hard as it may be in certain circumstances," Maduro said in the prerecorded interview in Havana, which was broadcast Tuesday night by the Caracas-based television network Telesur.
Both supporters and opponents of Chavez have been on edge in the past week amid shifting signals from the government about the president's health.
Chavez has not been seen or heard from since the December 11 operation, and officials have reported a series of ups and downs in his recovery — the most recent, on Sunday, announcing that he faced new complications from a respiratory infection.
Maduro did not provide any new details about Chavez's complications during Tuesday's interview. But he joined other Chavez allies in urging Venezuelans to ignore gossip, saying rumors were being spread due to "the hatred of the enemies of Venezuela."
Maduro said Chavez faces "a complex and delicate situation." However, he said when he spoke with the president and looked at his face, he seemed to have "the same strength as always."
Chavez has been fighting an undisclosed type of pelvic cancer since June 2011. He has declined to reveal the precise location of the tumors that have been surgically removed.
The president announced on December 8, two month after winning re-election, that his cancer had come back despite previous surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
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