Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was reportedly in “serious shape” when he was admitted to a military hospital in Caracas on Tuesday suffering from kidney failure.
“He was in fairly serious overall condition,” a source told the Miami-based Spanish language daily El Nuevo Herald, a sister publication of The Miami Herald.
“When he arrived, he was in quite serious shape and that is why he was brought in for emergency care.”
The paper also reported that the leftist, staunchly anti-American Chavez, who has been undergoing chemotherapy following cancer surgery in Cuba in June, was taken from the presidential palace in “grave condition.”
Fox News Latino also referred to sources reporting that Chavez was suffering from “possible kidney failure.” And former U.S. ambassador to the Organization of American States, Roger Noriega, told El Nuevo Herald that Chavez “is not improving like his doctors had hoped.”
|Chavez with the Castro brothers in June at a Havana hospital. (AP Photo)
Since Chavez, 56, underwent surgery for a pelvic abscess in Havana in June, a lack of official information has raised questions about the true state of his health.
After returning from Cuba on Friday, Chavez stayed “uncharacteristically out of the media spotlight and sent no messages on his Twitter feed, which has more than two million followers,” The Telegraph reported.
The mystery surrounding his health was deepened on Friday when a meeting between Chavez and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, set for the coming weekend in Caracas, was postponed indefinitely.
Chavez has been in power since 1999 and plans to run for a fourth term in 2012. On Thursday he sought to downplay the reports about his health.
Chavez called state television and urged Venezuelans to “pay no attention to rumors,” presumably referring to the Nuevo Herald report.
“I’m here in my place of work and working,” he said, but added that he is working at “half throttle” while undergoing medical treatments.
And Venezuela’s Information Minister Andres Izarra said in a Twitter posting: “Those who should be admitted [to a hospital] are the journalists of the Nuevo Herald, except into a madhouse.” He provided no details about Chavez’s condition.
But El Nuevo Herald reported that former ambassador Noriega said in Spanish: “We must begin to think of — and should begin to prepare ourselves for — a world without Hugo Chavez.”
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