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In a rough weekend for world leaders' health, Hugo Chavez ran up against "new complications" after his cancer surgery and remains in "delicate" condition in Cuba. Venezuela's Vice President didn't go into detail about Chavez's condition but said that the 58-year-old leader "himself talked about these complications," a small signal that Chavez is at least lucid. "Thanks to his physical and spiritual strength, Comandante Chavez is confronting this difficult situation," said Maduro. "We trust that the avalanche of love and solidarity with Comandante Chavez, together with his immense will to live and the care of the best medical specialists, will help our president win this new battle." Meanwhile, the New Year's Eve concert and festivities planned for downtown Caracas have been cancelled, and Venezuela's leaders are asking the people to pray for Chavez.

It's been a rough month for Chavez. Around December 9th, the usually colorful and upbeat learned that his cancer had returned and headed back to Cuba for treatment. In an uncharacteristically dire tone, he released a statement saying that he had "absolute confidence in the bright future that lies ahead for our beloved fatherland and the Bolivarian revolution." Some read that as the first (ever) signal that he might step down.

The situation looks worse now. Even before news of the complications emerged, Venezuelan officials described their president's condition as "delicate," but now folks are seriously starting to consider the possibility that the recently reelected Chavez might not be able to make it to his January 10th inauguration, his third. If he is found unfit to lead, the country would hold an election within 30 days. In the meantime, Maduro has left Venezuela with three simple parting words: "Long live Chavez."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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