Venezuela’s Chavez ‘Gaining Strength,’ VP Maduro Says

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is “gaining strength,” according to the country’s Vice President Nicolas Maduro.

The update was given by Maduro on Sunday. The vice president added that the absent leader’s “vital signs and organ function are stabilizing, he is conscious and gaining strength for the next stage [of treatment].”

Al Jazeera reports that Maduro’s remarks, meant to reassure the people of Venezuela, did not do much to dissolve the speculation surrounding the country’s absent leader.

His last public appearance was on December 10 — the longest he has ever gone out of the public eye. There is much speculation surrounding Chavez, some of which suggests the president is much sicker than is being reported.

Chavez designated Maduro as his successor before flying to Cuba to begin his fourth round of cancer treatments. It was the first time the Venezuelan leader had named a successor since his health problems began, notes Yahoo! News.

Opposition leaders have demanded that Chavez speak to the Venezuelan people through state media if he is able to, but so far he has remained silent. The country’s government has also released minimal information about their leader, declining to go into detail about his cancer and how bad it is.

So far, the Venezuelan government has only acknowledged that Chavez suffered “complications” during his surgery and recovery. Maduro stated, however, “We’re always optimistic in the sense that sooner rather than later we will have the president here with us.”

Tensions regarding Hugo Chavez’s condition are rampant in Venezuela. The leader’s cancer is believed to be in his pelvic region.