Published: March 01. 2013 4:00AM PST
Venezuela’s Vice President Nicolas Maduro, bottom, holds a copy of Venezuela’s Constitution as he delivers a speech Thursday during the annual management report from government ministries at the National Assembly in Caracas. At top is Diosdado Cabello, president of Venezuela’s National Assembly.
Maduro said Thursday that Hugo Chavez is still fighting for his life, yet a recent poll says three in five Venezuelans believe their president will return to power.
Maduro, Chavez’s self-appointed successor, said on television that his boss “is battling there for his health, for his life, and we’re accompanying him."
The vice president had characterized Chavez’s condition similarly on Dec. 20, saying the president “is fighting a great battle ... for his life, for his health."
Chavez hasn’t spoken or been seen since before his fourth operation in Cuba on Dec. 11 for an unspecified cancer in the pelvic area.
The government says Chavez returned on Feb. 18 and is at a military hospital in Caracas for continued treatment for “respiratory insufficiency."
Despite speculation by doctors not involved in Chavez’s treatment that it is most likely palliative, designed only to make him more comfortable in his remaining days, a poll showed nearly 58 percent of Venezuelans apparently believe — or want to believe — he is on the mend and will return to power.
Ariana Cubillos / The Associated Press