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Despite Absence, Venezuelans Celebrate Chavez's New Term

  • VOA News

 A supporter of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez attends a gathering outside Miraflores Palace in Caracas, January 10, 2013.

A supporter of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez attends a gathering outside Miraflores Palace in Caracas, January 10, 2013.

Supporters of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez are celebrating outside the presidential palace in Caracas, in a show of solidarity for the leader who remains too ill to attend his swearing-in.

Chavez's inauguration for a new term was planned for Thursday, but the leader remains in Cuba, where he is recovering from cancer surgery.

A massive street celebration replaced what would have been the swearing-in ceremony.

Supporters rally in support of Hugo Chavez in Caracas, Venezuela, Jan. 10, 2013.

Supporters rally in support of Hugo Chavez in Caracas, Venezuela, Jan. 10, 2013.

Several Latin American presidents, including Jose Mujica of Uruguay, Bolivia's Evo Morales and Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua, are attending the celebration.

Venezuela's Supreme Court has ruled that Chavez could delay his inauguration indefinitely.

Opposition leaders were outraged by the delay, arguing new elections must be held within 30 days if the president is unable to take the oath of office on January 10 as mandated by the constitution.

"It is regrettable, because institutions should not respond to the interests of a party. After all, the fight was over respecting the constitution, not about a change of government, be sure of that, I want to be clear on that," said opposition leader Henrique Capriles.

Last month, national assembly leader Diosdado Cabello said he would not call for a new vote.

Some legal experts insisted the constitution allows the Supreme Court to swear in the president without mentioning a specific date.

The 58-year-old Chavez has not been seen in public since traveling to Havana for the surgery, his fourth since he was first diagnosed with cancer in 2011. His condition and the type of cancer he has are not clear.

Venezuela's information minister said Monday that Chavez has a lung infection related to his cancer treatment and his condition is stable.

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