Senior officials and relatives of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez have denied rumors that he passed away from cancer, saying he was still battling for his life.

"There he is, continuing his fight, his battle, and we are sure of victory!" his older brother Adan Chavez, the governor of
Barinas state, told a crowd of cheering supporters on Friday.

Speculation about Chavez hit fever pitch this week, fed in part by claims from Guillermo Cochez, Panama's former ambassador to the Organization of American States, that the Venezuelan leader had died.

"The launching of absurd and bizarre rumors by the right wing simply discredits them and isolates them further from the
people," said Jorge Arreaza, Chavez's son-in-law, adding that the president was "calm" in a hospital with his family and doctors.

Apart from one set of photos showing Chavez lying in a Havana hospital bed, he has not been seen nor heard from in public since a December 11 surgery in Cuba, his fourth operation.

Source: Al Jazeera