By Dow Jones Business News, March 04, 2013, 10:35:00 PM EDT
CARACAS--Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has a "new and severe infection" that has caused his breathing problems to
worsen, as he continues his recovery from cancer surgery in a Caracas military hospital, the information minister said
Mr. Chavez is receiving "strong impact chemotherapy among other complementary treatments," Ernesto Villegas said in a
statement read on national television.
"His general state continues to be very delicate," Mr. Villegas said. "Today, there exists a worsening of the
respiratory functions...right now, he is presented with a new and severe infection."
Officials have never identified the specific type of cancer Mr. Chavez is battling and few details are publicly known
of his medical outlook. But his government's updates on his health, while vague, have grown grim in recent weeks,
casting further uncertainty on the future of Mr. Chavez in office.
The 58-year-old president returned to Venezuela on Feb. 18 after more than two months in Havana where he received his
latest round of surgery on Dec. 11. Officials said he had excessive bleeding complications during the procedure and a
post-operative lung infection, which they subsequently said he had overcome.
On Friday, top government officials gathered at the military hospital where Mr. Chavez is being treated to inaugurate
a chapel and hold a service in his honor.
Much of the statement read by Mr. Villegas was dedicated to criticizing the opposition, which he accused of delighting
in the health woe of Mr. Chavez.
"The Bolivarian government repudiates the hypocritical attitude of those historical enemies of Hugo Chavez who have
always lavished in hate and insults and who are now trying to use his health situation as an excuse to destabilize the
Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela."
Venezuela in recent days has taken on the look and feel of a country in the run-up to a presidential election.
Vice President Nicolas Maduro, who is almost certain to seek to replace Mr. Chavez if the president steps down, has
appeared on state television daily and has ratcheted up his attacks against Miranda state Gov. Henrique Capriles, the
likely opposition candidate in early elections.
If Mr. Chavez has his term cut short, the constitution calls for elections within 30 days.
Write to Kejal Vyas at Kejal.Vyas@dowjones.com and Ezequiel Minaya at firstname.lastname@example.org
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