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As Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez convalesces in Cuba, recovering from emergency surgery two weeks ago, he has been spending his recovery hanging out with his old pal, Fidel Castro. Yesterday, the two lounged in track suits during a conversation broadcast, in part, on Cuban state television, allaying suspicions that Chavez had died or was too ill to function. "Chavez seemed healthy and animated as he talked and smiled alongside Castro in what appeared to be the patio and living room of a house," the Associated Press reported. But Chavez has been unusually quiet during his recovery from what Venezuelan officials have said was "a pelvic abscess, an accumulation of pus that can have various causes, including infection or surgical complications." 

With Chavez clearly struggling to regain his health, attention has turned to his successor. In addition to track pants and a socialist revolutionary past, the Venezuelan leader shares with Castro the convenience of a brother standing by who can act as successor if and when he becomes too weak or sick to rule. Fidel's brother Raul Castro has been in charge in Cuba ever since Fidel took ill in 2006. Similarly, Adan Chavez is poised to step into Hugo's shoes, The New York Times reported.

A former Venezuelan ambassador to Cuba and long a member of Hugo Chávez’s inner circle of advisers, Adán Chávez has taken on the role of providing public updates on his brother’s convalescence, shuttling between Caracas and Havana in recent weeks. It was his disclosure last Wednesday that the president would not return to Venezuela for another 10 to 12 days that offered the most serious assessment yet of the president’s slow recovery.

Hugo Chavez's top advisers have rejected speculation that he has cancer, but the Venezuelan president has been reticent to discuss the details of his condition. So far, his brief Twitter communications have focused mostly on his grandchildren's visit, The Times reported. “Ah, what happiness to receive this showering of love,” he wrote.

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