CARACAS Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is suffering from a severe infection and his breathing has worsened during chemotherapy, putting him in a “very delicate” state, the government said late Monday.
The once omnipresent face of the Latin American left, now breathing with the aid of a tracheal tube, has neither emerged nor spoken in public in almost three months, leaving the oil-rich nation and the wider region on tenterhooks.
“Currently, he has a new and severe infection,” Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said in a statement read from the hospital, adding that there was a “worsening of respiratory function”.
The sombre government statement came two weeks after Chavez, 58, checked into a Caracas military hospital following two months of treatment in Cuba, where he underwent his fourth round of cancer surgery since June 2011.
Saying Chavez continues to “cling to Christ and life”, Villegas reiterated that he was undergoing “intensive chemotherapy, as well as complementary treatments” and that his “condition continues to be very delicate”.
Chavez’s prolonged absence — which prevented him from being sworn into a third six-year term earlier this year — has angered the opposition, which accuses the government of lying about his condition.
Hundreds of people joined an opposition-led march on Sunday demanding that the government reveal more details about the condition of the president of this South American nation, which sits atop the world’s largest proven oil reserves.