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After Two Months Absent, Still No Sign of Chavez

11 Feb 2013

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A supporter of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez wears glasses that reads in Spanish "I am Chavez" while attending a demonstration

Two months have passed since Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez climbed the stairs of the presidential jet, blew kisses to his supporters and flew to Cuba to undergo his fourth cancer-related surgery.

Chavez hasn't been seen or spoken publicly since that departure to Havana on December 10, and the mystery surrounding his condition has deepened while the government's updates have remained optimistic but have lately offered few specifics, reports The Associated Press.

"The president is in charge and making decisions," Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said Saturday after meeting with Brazil's foreign minister. "It's a slow, slow recovery process. But he is fighting his battle with great faith, and clinging to Christ and clinging to life ... and with the conviction that he is going to win this battle, too."

Jaua, who visited Chavez in Cuba last week, said the 58-year-old president has been making political and economic decisions. On Friday, for instance, the government announced it is devaluing the currency.

Confidants including Jaua have recently said the president has overcome complications including a severe respiratory infection following his December 11 surgery for recurrent cancer in his pelvic region.

Vice President Nicolas Maduro, whom Chavez named as his potential successor before the surgery, has said that the president should be able to return home once his condition permits it.

When that might be remains unclear, and the long silence of a leader who used to speak on television almost every day has led many Venezuelans to wonder why he is unable to say at least a few words to the country by phone.

Some analysts say they expect that sooner or later, Chavez's delicate health could make necessary a new election to replace him.

Tags: News, World, Venezuela, Chavez

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