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Where is Hugo Chavez?

The Venezuelan president reappeared on Twitter on Friday, but he hasn’t been seen in public for two weeks after undergoing surgery in Cuba.

Cuba's state media website released photos on 17 June which showed Chavez posing with Fidel and Raul Castro in a hospital room
Cuba's state media website released photos on 17 June which showed Chavez posing with Fidel and Raul Castro in a hospital room
Image: Cubadebate

OFFICIALS IN VENEZUELA have denied reports that President Hugo Chavez is in a critical condition in hospital.

Chavez hasn’t been seen in public for two weeks, sparking speculation that he is seriously ill. He underwent surgery for an abscess while on an official visit to Cuba on 9 June, but his government said he would be back within a “few days”. Chavez was last heard from on 12 June, when he conducted a phone interview with Venezuelan state television.

Spanish language newspaper El Nuevo Herald reported yesterday that Chavez is in a critical condition and in a “complicated situation”, but Venezuelan leaders have denied these reports. His defence minister has said in recent days that he is “stronger than ever” reports Reuters, while vice president Elias Juan has told reporters that “Chavez will be around for a long time”.

It’s also reported that the president’s wife and daughter have traveled to Cuba, with El Nuevo Herald quoting a source as saying they were taken to Chavez “urgently”.

The president returned to his Twitter page on Friday after not tweeting since 5 June. Reuters reports that he posted a message to mark the anniversary of a military victory over Spanish forces in 1812 which read “Today is my army’s day and the sun rose brilliantly! A huge hug to my soldiers and to my beloved people”.

The Washington Post reports that Chavez’s absence has caused his political rivals to ask questions, with the Mayor of Caracas Antonio Ledezma saying “you cannot run a country via Twitter”. The vice president has rejected suggestions that he be sworn in temporarily.

- Additional reporting by AP

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Emer McLysaght

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