Hugo Chavez suffers new complications in cancer fight

Hugo Chavez

"Everything suggests Chavez's health situation hasn't evolved as hoped,'' Sucre said. He said Maduro likely remained in Havana to keep close watch on how Chavez's condition develops.

"These hours should be key to having a more definitive prognosis of Chavez's health, and as a consequence make the corresponding political decisions according to the constitution,'' Sucre said.

Sucre and other Venezuelans said it seems increasingly unlikely that Chavez would be able to be sworn in as scheduled on Jan. 10.

The Venezuelan leader has not been seen or heard from since undergoing his fourth cancer-related surgery Dec. 11, and government officials have said he might not return in time for his inauguration for a new six-year term.

If Chavez dies or is unable to continue in office, the Venezuelan Constitution says that a new election should be held within 30 days.

Before his operation, Chavez acknowledged he faced risks and designated Maduro as his successor, telling supporters they should vote for the vice president if a new presidential election were necessary.

Chavez said at the time that his cancer had come back despite previous surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation treatment. He has been fighting an undisclosed type of pelvic cancer since June 2011.

Maduro said on Sunday that he had met with Chavez. "We greeted each other and he himself referred to these complications,'' Maduro said, reading from a prepared statement.

"The president gave us precise instructions so that, after finishing the visit, we would tell the (Venezuelan) people about his current health condition,'' Maduro said. "President Chavez's state of health continues to be delicate, with complications that are being attended to, in a process not without risks.''

Maduro was seated alongside Chavez's eldest daughter, Rosa, and son-in-law Jorge Arreaza, as well as Attorney General Cilia Flores. He held up a copy of a newspaper confirming that his message was recorded on Sunday.

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