Chavez opponents demand answers about his cancer

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 23, 2013 at 7:04 pm •  Published: February 23, 2013
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CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Hundreds of government opponents demonstrated Saturday to demand answers about Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's condition while he remains out of sight in a hospital, undergoing treatment more than 10 weeks after his latest cancer surgery.

The protesters also condemned the government's most recent economic measures, which have included a devaluation of Venezuela's currency, the bolivar. Some held signs with a photo of Vice President Nicolas Maduro and a slogan saying the devaluation will mean "more inflation."

Opposition leaders, though, mainly criticized the secrecy surrounding Chavez's diagnosis and treatment, saying many Venezuelans want the government to be more forthcoming about the president's condition.

"We came to say that this nation demands the truth," Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma said at the demonstration.

"Yesterday they were saying they had a five-hour meeting with the president. Nobody believes that. Just two days earlier they excused themselves with President Evo Morales (of Bolivia), saying the president was resting due to his delicate state of health, and they didn't let him see him," Ledezma added.

Maduro said Friday night that he and other officials visited for about five hours with the president at the military hospital in Caracas where he is being treated.

Chavez hasn't spoken publicly since before his Dec. 11 surgery, and has been seen only in several photographs released by the government.

Maduro said on television Saturday that Chavez remains in charge.