Venezuela's VP in Havana to see Chavez, family

Published on NewsOK Modified: January 11, 2013 at 8:46 pm •  Published: January 11, 2013
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CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuela's vice president flew to Cuba on Friday to visit the ailing Hugo Chavez and his family, while the leaders of Argentina and Peru also traveled to Havana saying they hoped to ask about the Venezuelan president's condition.

The 58-year-old president is fighting a severe respiratory infection a month after he underwent cancer surgery in Havana, his government says.

"I'm leaving for Havana to continue that work of visiting the family, meeting with his medical team, visiting our commander president," Vice President Nicolas Maduro said on television in Caracas.

Cuba's nightly TV news show reported that Maduro had arrived, but did not say whether he made any comments. The Venezuelan was met at the airport by Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez, the show said.

Chavez hasn't spoken publicly or been seen since before his Dec. 11 operation, his fourth cancer-related surgery since June 2011 for an undisclosed type of pelvic cancer.

The government revealed this week that Chavez is receiving treatment for "respiratory deficiency." Medical experts say that might mean he is breathing with the help of a ventilator.

Maduro was making his second trip to Cuba since Chavez's surgery. He said he would meet with Argentine President Cristina Fernandez, who also was visiting Havana, and hoped to meet with Peruvian President Ollanta Humala, who arrived Friday in the Cuban capital.

Fernandez arrived at the Hotel Nacional along Havana's waterfront on Friday morning. Authorities have characterized the Argentine leader's trip as a private visit and her foreign minister said Thursday that she intended to meet with Chavez.

She told The Associated Press in Friday afternoon that she would lunch with Cuban President Raul Castro and his retired brother Fidel. "And then surely I will meet with the family of my companion and dear friend Hugo Chavez," Fernandez said.

Arriving at the Havana airport, Humala did not say if had confirmed plans to meet with Chavez.

"Obviously I will ask, I will see, how is President Chavez's situation," Humala told reporters, saying he wishes Chavez a "quick recovery."

Presidents Rafael Correa of Ecuador and Evo Morales of Bolivia have also visited Havana during Chavez's current stay there.

Peruvian analyst Nelson Manrique said Humala's trip was a reflection of the president's personal friendship with Chavez, as well as political.

"There is a sector that would like Peru to be unconditionally aligned with the United States, but this is more prudent politically to develop a multilateral policy," Manrique said. "It doesn't seem probable that Hugo Chavez will continue governing, but in any of the scenarios 'Chavismo' will be a very strong force in Venezuela.

"It's convenient for the Peruvian government to maintain a relationship, leave the door open, and balance the geopolitical relationship with Venezuela as well," the analyst added.



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