Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez is in an induced coma being kept alive by life support following complications during cancer surgery, it was claimed today.
Sources at the hospital in Cuba where he is being treated told a Spanish newspaper he was showing ‘very weak’ vital signs, adding that doctors could decide to switch off the machines ‘at any moment’.
With rumours swirling that Chavez had taken a turn for the worse, Venezuela’s Vice President Nicolas Maduro said the ailing president’s condition remains ‘delicate’ three weeks after his cancer surgery.
He did not provide further information about the president’s condition and told Venezuelan’s to ignore speculation about his health.
‘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.’