Venezuela claims Chavez 'conscious' in Cuba

According to official statement, president's health has recently improved and pulmonary infection is under control.

    Venezuela claims Chavez 'conscious' in Cuba
    "Chavistas", as the president's supporters are called, gathered for pro-Chavez rallies across the country [Reuters]

    The health of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has evolved in a "favourable" way in recent days, although he still requires treatment for respiratory failure, the government has said.

    "Despite his delicate state ... in recent days the general medical evolution has been favourable," said the latest official
    statement on Chavez's health on Sunday.

    "The respiratory infection is controlled, though the commander-president still requires specific measures to solve
    breathing insufficiency ... he is conscious."

    Chavez has been hospitalised in Cuba since his fourth cancer operation last month and suffered a pulmonary infection.

    Former vice president Elias Jaua said earlier on Sunday "the situation is complex and delicate, but it is true that Hugo Chavez has fought and is fighting for his life".

    Supporters of the ailing president held rallies across Venezuela and defended a controversial court ruling allowing the indefinite delay of the socialist leader's inauguration.

    Waving photos and banners, and wearing the trademark red T-shirts of the "Chavistas", as his supporters are known, hundreds gathered for assemblies in the capital and several other states.

    "Get well president! Here we are waiting for you with open arms," cried Chavez supporter Clara Pacheco to government television cameras, which covered the rallies extensively throughout the day.

    'Bolivarian revolution'

    Despite opposition claims that the constitution required that the inauguration be held on January 10, the mostly pro-Chavez congress voted to delay the swearing-in ceremony.

    The Supreme Court endorsed the postponement, saying the president could take the oath of office before the court at a later date.

    Elias Jaua, a close Chavez confidante, urged a crowd of government supporters gathered inside a packed Caracas auditorium to safeguard Chavez's "Bolivarian Revolution," a political movement taking its name from 19th-century independence hero Simon Bolivar.

    Many government opponents claim the court's decision violated the constitution.

    The opposition plans to present a case before the Costa Rica-based Inter-American Court of Human Rights to challenge the decision.

    Opposition politicians are also demanding more information regarding the health of Chavez.

    The government says Chavez, who won re-election to a fresh six-year term in October, is fighting a severe respiratory infection in a Cuban hospital.

    The president underwent his fourth cancer-related surgery on December 11. He has not spoken publicly or been seen since the operation.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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