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The Venezuelan government says President Hugo Chávez has experienced complications and is having trouble breathing as he responds to cancer treatment in Cuba.

The Information Minister Ernesto Villegas spoke amid growing concern for the president’s health and accusations from the opposition of a lack of transparency.

“After the surgery on December 11 Commander Chávez has faced complications as a result of a
severe lung infection. This infection has caused a breathing deficiency that requires Commander Chávez to comply strictly with medical
treatment,” he said.

Earlier Vice President Nicolas Maduro returned home from Cuba where he and other leaders visited Chávez in hospital.

He gave an upbeat message as he toured a coffee plant in Caracas.

“President Chávez is conscious of all the circumstances he’s living through, which are complex circumstances. He’s conscious of the battle he is fighting and he has a spirit of battle as always,” said the vice president. “Sooner rather than later, we will see Commander Hugo Chávez here, in his fatherland, with us, and we will hand him part of that fatherland.”

Chávez is due to be sworn in on January 10th after winning another six-year term as president in October.

Within six weeks of that victory he was back in Cuba for more cancer treatment.

He has not been seen in public or heard from in over three weeks. Views differ as to what should happen if he is unable to appear next week.

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