Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez is reportedly stable and spent Monday with his daughters, the cancer-stricken leader's son in law said here in an appeal for supporters to ignore rumors about his condition.
Chavez has not been seen in public nor heard from in more than three weeks. The vice-president said on Sunday that the 58-year-old was suffering a third set of complications after surgery in Cuba on December 11, his fourth operation in 18 months. "Compatriots, DON'T believe in ill-intentioned rumors," Science Minister Jorge Arreaza, who is married to Chavez's daughter Rosa Virginia, wrote on Twitter from Havana where they have been at the former soldier's bedside.
"President Chavez spent the day quietly and stable, together with his daughters." Chavez has not provided details of the cancer that was first diagnosed in June 2011, leading to speculation among Venezuela's 29 million people and criticism from opposition leaders. Officials have said he suffered unexpected bleeding as result of the complex, six-hour operation on his pelvic area, and that doctors had to fight a respiratory infection, which then caused his latest setback on Sunday.
The government has repeatedly described Chavez's condition as "delicate," warning Venezuelans to prepare for difficult days ahead and urging them to pray for "el Comandante." The main New Year's Eve party in downtown Caracas was canceled. Instead, the information minister hosted a smaller gathering which featured musicians, speeches and prayers and was dubbed "Now More Than Ever With Chavez."
The president's death or resignation due to illness would upend politics in Venezuela, where his personalised brand of oil-financed socialism has made him a hero to the poor majority but a pariah to critics who call him a dictator. His condition is also being watched closely around Latin America, especially in other leftist-run nations such as Cuba, Ecuador and Bolivia, which depend on subsidised fuel shipments and other Venezuelan aid for their fragile economies.