CARACAS, Venezuela (CBSMiami/CBS News) – For the first time in more than two months, the Venezuelan government showed pictures of President Hugo Chavez, who is undergoing cancer treatment in Cuba.
One photo showed Chavez along with his two daughters while the other showed him smiling broadly while reading the Cuban Communist Party newspaper, Granma. The pictures were shown by Chavez’s son-in-law, Science Minister Jorge Arreza.
Rumors and speculation have been swirling about Chavez’s health after his December 11 cancer surgery in Cuba. Chavez hadn’t been seen or directly heard from since he left for Cuba on December 10.
Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said Friday that Chavez is breathing through a tracheal tube that makes it difficult for him to speak. Government opponents have been demanding more information about Chavez’s condition, and have been asking why he hasn’t spoken to the nation to explain his condition.
Vice President Nicolas Maduro has traveled repeatedly to Havana, and Maduro has shown on television documents signed by Chavez. On Wednesday, Maduro said that Chavez is now undergoing “extremely complex and tough” treatments, which he didn’t specify.
Medical experts consulted by The Associated Press have said the government’s recent account of “systemic medical treatment” could mean various types of chemotherapy or drug treatments, depending on the type of cancer.
The 58-year-old president has been undergoing cancer treatment in Cuba on-and-off since June 2011. He has had tumors removed from his pelvic region, and has also undergone prior rounds of chemotherapy and radiation treatment.