Venezuela denies Chavez in critical condition

Venezuela denies Chavez in critical condition

Chavez's government yesterday said he had an operation for a pelvic abscess on June 10 and continues to mend.

"He is recovering," Information Minister Andres Izarra told AFP in the wake of reports from Miami's El Nuevo Herald which cited unnamed US intelligence sources as saying Chavez, 56, "is in critical condition -- not on the brink of death, but critical indeed."

The newspaper also said the sources refused to comment on rumors in Venezuela that Chavez could be receiving treatment for prostate cancer.

Chavez's daughter, Rosines, and his second wife, Marisabel Rodriguez, were recently whisked to Cuba in an air force plane, according to the newspaper.

The Venezuelan government has not addressed details of Chavez's condition, and angry opposition lawmakers in Caracas say it is unconstitutional for the president to be governing from abroad.

But several top Venezuelan figures have dismissed the reports."Chavez will be around for a long time," Vice President Elias Jaua told reporters.

The president's brother, meanwhile, has told Venezuelan state media that Chavez could return to Caracas in about two weeks.

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