CARACAS, Venezuela — President Hugo Chavez is breathing with greater difficulty as a new and severe respiratory infection has taken hold, Venezuela’s government said, describing the cancer-stricken president’s condition as “very delicate.”
A brief statement read on national television by Communications Minister Ernesto Villegas late Monday carried the sobering news about the charismatic 58-year-old socialist leader’s deteriorating health.
Villegas said Chavez is suffering from “a new, severe infection.” The state news agency identified it as respiratory.
Chavez, 58, has been undergoing “chemotherapy of strong impact,” Villegas added without providing further details.
Chavez has neither been seen nor heard from, except for “proof-of-life” photos released in mid-February, since submitting to a fourth round of surgery in Cuba on Dec. 11 for an unspecified cancer in the pelvic area. It was first diagnosed in June 2011.
The government says he returned home on Feb. 18 and has been confined to Caracas’ military hospital since.
Villegas said Chavez was “standing by Christ and life conscious of the difficulties he faces.”