Share story

CARACAS, Venezuela — Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez, who has been out of public view since his December surgery for cancer, is undergoing another round of chemotherapy in a bid to stop the spread of the disease, according to Vice President Nicolas Maduro.

Speaking at a Mass at the military hospital where Chávez was admitted Feb. 18, Maduro said late Friday that the treatments would be “difficult.”

“But he has a strength superior to the treatments that he is receiving, and he is in a good state of mind,” Maduro said.

Chávez underwent at least one round of chemotherapy shortly after his initial two surgeries in Cuba in June 2011 to deal with a cancer, believed to be abdominal, for which virtually no specifics have been divulged. Chávez has undergone a total of four surgeries.

Maduro said the chemotherapy Chávez was receiving is typical for patients after such surgeries. Authorities have said little about Chávez’s condition or prognosis since his Dec. 11 operation in Havana, other than he is suffering from respiratory weakness, that he is on a respirator and that he continues to fight for his life.

Speaking Saturday in the blue-collar Petare barrio of Caracas, Foreign Minister Elias Jaua responded to opposition figures who have demanded that an independent commission ascertain that Chávez is indeed alive and capable of performing his presidential duties. Critics said if he was not mentally or physically able, Chávez should resign and new elections should be held.

“Chávez is undergoing the treatment he has to receive,” Jaua said. “Those who don’t want him to recover are the ones (exerting) this blackmail, this criminal pressure, before which we will never give in.”