CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — President Hugo Chavez has been receiving chemotherapy since recovering from a severe respiratory infection in mid-January and "continues his battle for life," his vice president said late Friday.
Vice President Nicolas Maduro suggested the chemotherapy was continuing in the government's first mention of it as among treatments that Venezuela's cancer-stricken president has received since his Dec. 11 cancer surgery in Cuba.
Maduro made the disclosure after a Mass for Chavez in a new chapel outside the military hospital where authorities say the socialist leader has been since being flown back to Caracas on Feb. 18.
The vice president quoted Chavez as saying he decided to return to Venezuela because he was entering "a new phase" of "more intense and tough" treatments and wanted to be in Caracas for them.
Maduro's offering of the most detailed rundown to date of Chavez's post-operative struggle came hours after an accusation by opposition leader Henrique Capriles that the government has repeatedly lied about Chavez's condition.
"We'll see how they explain to the country in the (coming) days all the lies they've been telling about the president's situation," Capriles, whom Chavez defeated in Oct. 7 elections, said in a tweet.
Chavez has not been seen nor heard from since going to Cuba for his fourth cancer surgery, except for a set of "proof of life" photos released Feb. 15 while he was still in Havana.
Chavez first revealed an unspecified cancer in the pelvic region in June 2011, and reported undergoing radiation treatment and chemotherapy after earlier operations.
The government has sent mixed signals on Chavez's condition, although Maduro has said several times that Chavez was battling for his life. He repeated that Friday, and also accused opponents of spreading rumors about Chavez's health to destabilize the nation.