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Venezuela VP in Cuba to see Chavez

Nicolas Maduro is visiting ailing Venezuelan president, as leaders of Argentina and Peru also arrived in Havana.
Last Modified: 12 Jan 2013 05:34

Venezuela's vice president has flown to Cuba to visit the ailing Hugo Chavez and his family, while the leaders of Argentina and Peru also traveled to Havana saying they hoped to ask about the Venezuelan president's condition.

The 58-year-old president is fighting a severe respiratory infection a month after he underwent cancer surgery in Havana, his government says.

"I'm leaving for Havana to continue that work of visiting the family, meeting with his medical team, visiting our commander president," Vice President Nicolas Maduro said on television in Caracas.

Cuba's nightly TV news show reported that Maduro had arrived on Friday, but did not say whether he made any comments.

The Venezuelan was met at the airport by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, the show said.

Chavez has not spoken publicly or been seen since before his December 11 operation, his fourth cancer-related surgery since June 2011 for an undisclosed type of pelvic cancer.

The government revealed this week that Chavez was receiving treatment for "respiratory deficiency". Medical experts say that might mean he is breathing with the help of a ventilator.

Maduro was making his second trip to Cuba since Chavez's surgery. He said he would meet with Argentine President Cristina Fernandez, who also was visiting Havana, and hoped to meet with Peruvian President Ollanta Humala, who arrived Friday in the Cuban capital.

Authorities have characterised the Argentine leader's trip as a private visit and her foreign minister said on Thursday that she intended to meet with Chavez.

Fernandez told The Associated Press news agency on Friday afternoon that she would lunch with Cuban President Raul Castro and his retired brother Fidel.

"And then surely I will meet with the family of my companion and dear friend Hugo Chavez," Fernandez said.

'Violating constitution'

Arriving at the Havana airport, Humala did not say if had confirmed plans to meet with Chavez.

"Obviously I will ask, I will see, how is President Chavez's situation,'' Humala told reporters, saying he wishes Chavez a "quick recovery".

Presidents Rafael Correa of Ecuador and Evo Morales of Bolivia have also visited Havana during Chavez's current stay there.

On Thursday, the government in Caracas gathered foreign allies and tens of thousands of supporters to celebrate the start of a new term for Chavez, even as he was too ill to return home for a real inauguration.

Despite opposition claims that the constitution demands a January 10 inauguration, the pro-Chavez congress approved delaying the inauguration and the Supreme Court on Wednesday endorsed the postponement, saying the president could be sworn in before the court at a later date.

Opposition politicians say that Maduro and other Chavez allies are violating the constitution by remaining in office beyond the formal swearing-in date.

The Supreme Court has dismissed that argument, saying the date in the constitution isn't binding if an inauguration is performed before the court rather than the congress, where presidents usually take the oath of office.

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Source:
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