Photo: Hugo Chavez Remains in Cuba
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has spent more than a week in Havana, where he is undergoing the final phase of his radiation therapy treatment, but he has communicated only via Twitter without giving any details about his health.
The president’s absence was particularly noticeable on Saturday at various government events, where his name was mentioned and he was repeatedly praised by ministers and supporters, while some spokespeople for the opposition have been questioning whether or not Chavez is actually governing the country.
“We, of course, are deployed here today. The national government is deployed under the direction of our commander who we know is not here physically, but where is the president? In the hearts of all Venezuelans,” Women’s Affairs Minister Nancy Perez said.
The government has made no comment in recent days about the health of the president, who departed on April 14 for Cuba to undergo the last phase of radiation therapy after a cancerous tumor was removed from his body in February, that tumor being a recurrence of the cancer for which he underwent surgery in June 2011.
“The commander, well, I don’t know, is there (in Cuba) but is governing here, always calling, questioning, asking for decisions for the Venezuelan people,” Vice President Elias Jaua said in reporting that Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro went to Havana on Friday to discuss matters concerning the “social and labor offensive” with Chavez.
“Elias and everyone: this morning I received the figures with Nicolas. Everything approved, among other things: IVSS reform law ready to incorporate workers Own Account!” the president said in a posting Saturday on his @chavezcandanga Twitter account.
Social-networking site Twitter has been the only manner of communication that the president has used recently, not even telephoning the state-run television network or (calling) during government events, as he has done on past trips to Cuba.
Opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles, meanwhile, has opted not to make any reference to Chavez’s convalescence in Cuba, although other anti-Chavez leaders have alluded to the matter directly.
“I don’t think the president is governing because we haven’t seen him, he hasn’t spoken. Who’s governing, who’s making the decisions? We want to know who is making the decisions in our country,” Zulia Gov. Pablo Perez said.
“We’re on the street working, we’re not a Twitter or Blackberry leader,” the opposition governor said.
Chavez left for Cuba with the unanimous permission of the National Assembly with the authorization to remain on the Communist-ruled island as long as he felt was necessary.
To date, no details have been released by the government regarding the type of cancer from which Chavez is suffering or the extent of the disease, except for the fact that it is situated in his pelvic area.