Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Venezuelan President Undergoes Cancer Surgery (Multiple Updated)

Update (December 13): Venezuelan Minister of Communications Ernesto Villegas admitted that there were complications during President Hugo Chavez cancer surgery on Tuesday.

He claimed that "corrective measures" were taken in order to stop internal bleeding during the six-hour operation.  

"This process of recovery will take time because of the complexity of the operation," Villegas said in a broadcast on Venezuelan state television. "The patient is in a progressive and favorable recovery of normal vital signs."

It's unknown if Chavez, who won reelection in October, will be fit enough to be inaugurated on January 10th.  If that cannot be done then according to the Venezuelan constitution new presidential elections must be held within thirty days.         
Update (December 12): Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro said that President Hugo Chavez faces a "difficult" recovery after undergoing cancer surgery on Tuesday.

"Yesterday's operation was complex, difficult and delicate, so the post-operation process will also be a complex and tough process," said a stone-faced Maduro in a televised press conference on Wednesday afternoon.

Maduro assured Venezuelans that the government is prepared to oversee this Sunday's local elections and hoped that the elections will be a "festival of participation."

Update (9:15 PM): Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez' cancer surgery operation finished in a "successful manner" according to Vice President Nicolas Maduro.

"The president is in his hospital room starting special treatments with the assessment of his medical team for the post-operation period that will last several days," said Maduro this evening.  

He noted that the surgery lasted more than six hours and was very complex.  Maduro, who Chavez named as his successor, thanked those whose "immense love...dedicated through prayer so that the operation could end in a successful manner.

Tareck El Aissami, a former minister and close ally to President Hugo Chavez, previously told Venezuela state television that Chavez' operation was "going well."

Original Post: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is about to undergo surgery related to his recurring cancer according to a statement from the country’s government.

“The medical team attending our Commander Hugo Chavez…has started the pro-surgery protocol ahead of the procedure that our leader of the Bolivarian Revolution will undergo (today),” said Minister of Communications Ernesto Villegas.

In his prepared remarks that were read earlier today on Venezuelan state TV, Villegas also mentioned that the “medical team has expressed their optimism over the success of this operation” that will be Chavez’ fourth operation in 18 months.

“The government…summons the Venezuelan people to remain united in prayer and to continue sending Commander Chavez their strongest feelings of love,” added Villegas. 
The minister’s remarks came hours after Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa announced that Chavez was being “operated on right now.”

“My dear friend and colleague, Commander Hugo Chavez, is going through the toughest times of his life," said Correa who had visited the ailing leader in Cuba before returning to Ecuador.

Chavez arrived in Cuba in the early morning hours of Monday and just over 24 hours after he announced that his cancer had returned.

“With God's will, like on the previous occasions, we will come out of this victorious,” said Chavez in a televised speech on Saturday.  He also named Vice President and foreign minister Nicolas Maduro as his successor if he's unable to continue in the presidency.

The latest developments over Chavez’ health has led to increased division within an already fractured political landscape.  Federal legislators approved the president’s request to travel to Cuba but not without a heated debate.  Opposition lawmaker Julio Borges questioned the government for allegedly not “handling the issue of the president’s health with transparency and honesty”.  Diosdado Cabello, head of the National Assembly, subsequently accused the opposition of “behaving morbidly” by seeking information on Chavez’ cancer.

Henrique Capriles, who lost to Chavez in last October’s presidential election, claimed that Venezuela is "not Cuba" and that "the people" should choose Chavez’ possible successor.  Capriles, who is facing a tough reelection battle for Miranda state governor, expressed his hope that God will “bless” Chavez and that “the virgin cover him with her mantle.”

Chavez has also received messages of support from Latin American presidents including close allies like Correa and Bolivia’s Evo Morales and conservative leaders such as Sebastián Piñera of Chile.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland declined to comment on Chavez's health though she noted that any election needed to find a successor should be “free and conducted on a level playing field.
Updated Video Source– YouTube via teleSUR

Online Sources including Updates– La Hora, Reuters, BBC News, El Tiempo, El Universal, UPI, U.S. State Department, BBC Mundo, Washington Post

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