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Venezuela's Chávez stable after respiratory infection

Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is in stable condition after being diagnosed with a respiratory infection following his latest cancer surgery in Cuba, an official said Wednesday.

Communications Minister Ernesto Villegas said doctors had treated the infection and brought it under control, adding that it was a common consequence of complicated surgeries and that the ailing leader required “absolute rest.”

Chávez, 58, is due to be sworn in for a third presidential term on Jan. 10, but the country is now on tenterhooks to see if the outspoken, formerly tireless leader will remain their president, become incapacitated, or worse.

He has named foreign minister and Vice President Nicolás Maduro as both his temporary replacement and hand-picked successor.

Chávez’s ruling socialist party tightened its grip on power over the weekend by winning 20 of the 23 governorships in local elections, snatching up four that had been held by the opposition.

But Chávez, who is still in Cuba following his latest surgery, has yet to publicly react to the victory.

Aides admitted that Chávez experienced “complications” from his most recent surgery, including bleeding that now appears to be under control.

Venezuela has never said what type of cancer Chávez has, nor which organs are affected, but doctors removed a tumor from his pelvic region last year.

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