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Chavez suffers respiratory infection after surgery

Chavez suffers respiratory infection after surgery

Caracas (Venezuela): Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has a respiratory infection after undergoing cancer surgery in Cuba, the government said amid uncertainty and concern over his delicate condition.

Chavez was diagnosed with the respiratory infection on Monday and he received immediate treatment, Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said on television, reading a government statement yesterday.

"It has been controlled," Villegas said, without elaborating.

Chavez's doctors have recommended "complete rest in the coming days," Villegas said. Concluding the statement, Villegas said: "Long live Chavez!"

The infection appeared a week after a six-hour operation that the government has said involved complications.

Chavez's elder brother, Adan, reportedly was heading to Cuba yesterday to visit the president.

The government newspaper Correo del Orinoco said Adan Chavez planned to leave in the afternoon. It also said that the President's father, Hugo de los Reyes Chavez, had plans to travel to Havana and that Chavez's mother might go with him, though that had not been confirmed.

Against the backdrop of Chavez's illness, many Venezuelans are talking about the possibility of a looming transition of power and a new presidential election. Before undergoing surgery, Chavez designated Vice President Nicolas Maduro as his chosen successor to take his place if necessary.

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos expressed concern yesterday about what might happen if a post-Chavez transition were to go badly. In a radio interview, he said a peaceful and problem-free change would have "no repercussion in the region."

"What would be terrible is if that transition weren't easy, were problematic," Santos said in an interview with Colombia's W Radio. "That would generate problems in the region. That's why I've said that Chavez is a factor of stability at this time."

Chavez's government has been appointed a facilitator in peace talks between Colombia's government and rebels, and Santos noted that he has had a good relationship with Venezuela's leftist leader despite their differences.

"I hope it stays that way, whether with Chavez or with his replacement," Santos said, adding that he had spoken with Maduro on various occasions.

Chavez hasn't spoken publicly since his Dec 11 surgery for an undisclosed type of pelvic cancer. It was his fourth cancer-related operation since June 2011.


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