Originally published on Fri January 25, 2013 11:06 am
By Lauren Frayer
From Madrid, correspondent Lauren Frayer writes:
Editors at Spain's El País newspaper thought they had a scoop: The first glimpse in more than six weeks of cancer-stricken Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.
A large, blurry photo above the fold on Thursday's front page showed a chubby-faced, bald man on an operating table surrounded by doctors, with a breathing tube in his mouth. A caption identified the ailing patient as Chavez, who is undergoing cancer treatment in Cuba.
"I have good news that our brother comandante President Chavez is already in physiotherapy in order to return to his country," Morales is quoted as saying. "We hope to be alongside him at international events as we have always been."
Three Latin American presidents turned up, as did foreign diplomats. And thousands of President Hugo Chavez's supporters flooded the streets Thursday outside the presidential palace in Venezuela's capital, Caracas.
But Chavez himself didn't show — he remained in Cuba, incapacitated after his latest round of cancer surgery.
Still, the carefully choreographed show did go on, and Chavez's aides said he remains in charge.
President Hugo Chavez is too ill to attend his inauguration this week, the Venezuelan government announced Tuesday.
In a letter to the National Assembly, Vice President Nicolas Maduro said the president's medical team said Chavez's recovery should be extended beyond Thursday – the day he is scheduled to be sworn in. The Associated Press reports: "Maduro said Chavez was invoking a provision in the constitution allowing him to be sworn in before the Supreme Court at a 'later date.'"
In the Bolivar Plaza of downtown Caracas, supporters of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez arrive carrying photographs of their leader and singing songs urging him on. Music blares from loudspeakers, repeating over and over, "Chavez, my commander, is here to stay."
Chavez, however, is most definitely not here, and increasingly many Venezuelans wonder if he'll ever be back. He flew to Cuba, Venezuela's closest ally, for an operation that took place on Dec. 11. Before leaving for his fourth cancer surgery, Chavez named a successor.