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Chavez Suffering From Breathing Problems

A woman holds a picture of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez as supporters gather at Simon Bolivar square in Caracas,Venezuela, Dec. 9, 2012.
A woman holds a picture of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez as supporters gather at Simon Bolivar square in Caracas,Venezuela, Dec. 9, 2012.
VOA News
Venezuela's information minister says President Hugo Chavez is suffering from a "new and severe" infection that has made it harder for him to breathe.

Information Minister Ernesto Villegas made the statement from a Caracas military hospital where the 58-year-old Chavez is being treated. He said the cancer-stricken leader has a "severe infection" and is in delicate condition.

On Saturday, Venezuela's vice president said President Chavez is still in charge of the country and making policy decisions even as he undergoes chemotherapy in a military hospital.

Nicolas Maduro said on Venezuelan television that Chavez sent a batch of policy papers to his Cabinet as recently as Friday.

Maduro earlier described the president's treatments as tough and said he is fighting for his life. But he says Chavez is in good spirits and that he is stronger than the exhausting chemotherapy treatments.

Chavez went into a Caracas hospital last month after spending two months in Cuba, forcing him to miss his January 10 inauguration for another six-year term.

  • Hugo Chavez with his daughters, Maria Gabriela, left, and Rosa Virginia at an unknown location in Havana, Cuba, February 14, 2013.
  • Hugo Chavez speaks at the Plaza Caracas, Feburary 4, 1998 during celebrations for the anniverary of the 1992 Venezuelan coup.
  • Chavez waves to the crowd after announcing his candidacy for the presidency in downtown Caracas Plaza, Venezuela, July 29, 1997.
  • President Barack Obama shakes hands with Chavez before the opening session of the 5th Summit of the Americas in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, April 17, 2009. 
  • Cuba's Fidel Castro, right, and Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez embrace in La Orchila island, Venezuela, December 22, 2003.
  • This picture released by Cuba's state newspaper Granma shows Cuba's President Raul Castro meeting Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez at the Jose Marti International airport in Havana, Cuba, December 10, 2012.
  • Hugo Chavez holds a microphone under pouring rain during his closing campaign rally in Caracas, October 4, 2012.
  • Chavez attends a special session at the National Assembly commemorating the country's Independence Day, in Caracas, Venezuela, July 5, 2012.
  • Hugo Chavez, center, Aristobulo Izturi, left, and Pablo Medina appear at a Caracas rally Friday, April 24, 1998.
  • Chavez runs the bases after hiting a double during an exhibition softball game in Caracas, February 11, 2010.
  • Supporters of Chavez pray for the ailing president at the military hospital's chapel in Caracas, March 5, 2013.
  • A woman carries an image of Chavez before a mass in support of him in Havana, Cuba, December 13, 2012.
  • Chavez, left, speaks with an electoral worker at a polling station before casting his ballot for the presidential election in Caracas, October 7, 2012.
  • Chavez greets supporters during his caravan from Miraflores presidential palace to the airport in Caracas, February 24, 2012.
  • Chavez shares a moment with his daughter Rosa as he attends a concert in his honor at the Teresa Carreno theater in Caracas, February 23, 2012.

The Venezuelan government has given few details of the president's illness other than saying he has a cancer in his pelvis.

The opposition has accused officials of lying about Chavez's condition.

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