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Chavez starting more medical treatment in Cuba

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 26, 2013 at 6:10 pm •  Published: January 26, 2013

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has defeated a respiratory infection and has begun additional medical treatment in Cuba after struggling with complications following cancer surgery more than six weeks ago, a government spokesman said Saturday.

Venezuelan Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said that it remains unclear how soon Chavez could return home, and did not specify the kind of treatment he is receiving.

"Vice President (Nicolas) Maduro estimates that the time it could take President Chavez to return is within weeks. But we haven't wanted to fix an exact timeframe for the president's recuperation," Villegas told reporters on the sidelines of a 60-nation summit in Chile.

He read a statement that went beyond past government reports in providing additional information about Chavez's Dec. 11 surgery, but didn't describe the newest treatment. While refusing to release many details about the president's cancer, authorities in the past have reported on specific treatments, including radiation and chemotherapy.

"Forty-five days after carrying out a complex surgical intervention for the removal of a malignant lesion in the pelvis, with severe, acute complications, the patient's general evolution is favorable," Villegas said, reading the statement.

"At this time, the serious respiratory infection has been overcome, although a certain degree of respiratory deficiency persists and is being duly treated," Villegas said.

After that improvement, Villegas said, "systemic medical treatment for the fundamental illness began to be applied as a complement to the surgery."

Villegas also criticized Spain's leading newspaper El Pais, which was forced to reprint its Thursday edition after discovering that its front-page exclusive photograph supposedly showing an ailing Chavez being treated in Cuba was a fake.

The newspaper apologized to its readers for the mistake and said it was investigating how the photo made its way into the paper.

"But who has apologized to Chavez or his family?" Villegas said.

"In Venezuela we've seen a phenomenon where even the atheists are praying for Chavez," he said. "In Uruguay, President Mujica, who's not a believer, organized a Mass and prayed for Chavez."

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