Hugo Chavez suffered complications during his cancer surgery in Cuba on Tuesday, according to Vice President Nicolas Maduro, who spoke on Venezuelan television after the surgery.
Maduro noted that “it’s been a complex operation.” NPR reports that the vice president added the surgery took more than six hours, but that it was completed “correctly and successfully.
Maduro, who will likely be Chavez’s successor should anything happen to the Venezuelan president, made the announcement in Caracas, along with other Chavez aides and military commanders. The vice president then lead an outdoor vigil for supporters who gathered together and prayed for the leader.
Chavez’s cancer surgery comes just three days after the leader announced his cancer had returned. It is his fourth operation linked to the potentially fatal disease since June 2011. After informing the country of Chavez’s condition, Maduro addressed the leader, saying:
“We’re waiting for you here. You have to return, and we’re waiting for you here, your children, we who’ve sworn to be loyal to you even beyond this life. If there were another life, we’d be loyal and we’d be your soldiers forever.”
Reuters notes that Venezuala’s Information Minister, Ernesto Villegas, stated doctors had to use “corrective measures” during Chavez’s surgery to stop bleeding during the complicated surgery. Villegas added:
“This process of recovery will take time because of the complexity of the operation. The patient is in a progressive and favorable recovery of normal vital signs.”
Hugo Chavez has not divulged the specific kind of cancer he is fighting, though it is believed to be located in his pelvis. He stated earlier this year that his cancer was cured, but the recent diagnosis appears to worry his followers and cabinet members. The somber tone of official statements since the surgery on Tuesday lead to the possibility that Chavez may not make it out of recovery this time.
Another clue to the gravity of the situation came when Chavez named a successor for the first time since he took office in 1999. With the complications he suffered during surgery on Tuesday, it is understandable that his cabinet members would be more somber.