Tue, 05 Mar 2013 08:00:00 GMT | By Reuters

Chavez's breathing problems worsen, has severe new infection

Venezuelan President's breathing problems have worsened and he is suffering from a "severe" new respiratory infection as he struggles to recover from cancer surgery


Chavez's breathing problems worsen, has severe new infection (© Reuters)

Caracas: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's breathing problems have worsened and he is suffering from a "severe" new respiratory infection as he struggles to recover from cancer surgery, the government said in an update.

The 58-year-old socialist leader has not been seen in public nor heard from in almost three months since undergoing surgery in Cuba. It was his fourth operation since the disease was detected in mid-2011.

"Today there is a worsening of his respiratory function. Related to his depressed immune system, there is now a new, severe infection," Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said on Monday, reading the latest brief, official statement on his condition.

Chavez made a surprise homecoming two weeks ago with none of the fanfare and celebration that accompanied previous returns from treatment in Havana. The government said Chavez was fighting for his life behind armed guards at a Caracas military hospital.

The Venezuelan President suffered multiple complications after the December 11 surgery, including unexpected bleeding and an earlier severe respiratory infection that officials said had been controlled. The government said he had trouble speaking because he was breathing through a tracheal tube, but that he was giving orders to ministers by writing them down.

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