MIAMI (AFP) – Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, who is in Cuba following emergency surgery, is in "critical" but stable condition, Miami's El Nuevo Herald reported Saturday, citing US intelligence sources.
Chavez's government has said he was operated on for a pelvic abscess June 10 and is recovering well; the president's brother has told Venezuelan state media that Chavez could return to Caracas in about two weeks.
But the Venezuelan government has not addressed details of Chavez's condition. And opposition lawmakers are up in arms in Caracas as many think it is unconstitutional for the president to be governing from abroad.
The Spanish-language El Nuevo Herald cited unnamed US intelligence sources as refusing to comment on rumors in Venezuela that Chavez could be receiving treatment for prostate cancer.
Yet one source was quoted as saying that Chavez "is in critical condition; not on the brink of death, but critical indeed, and complicated."
The same sources said Chavez's daughter, Rosines, and his mother, Marisabel Rodriguez, were recently whisked off to Cuba in an air force plane, the report said.
"They took Marisabel and her daughter out urgently," another source told the paper. "That was 72 hours ago."
After almost two weeks of uncharacteristic quiet, Chavez took to Twitter again on Friday, without addressing the controversy over his time spent abroad recovering from surgery in Cuba.
"Good morning to my (Twitter followers). It is my Army's Day, and the sun is shining brightly. I am sending a big hug to my troops and my beloved people," Chavez (@chavezcandanga) tweeted on the microblogging service.
The firebrand leftist leader was hospitalized June 10 in Havana, his top regional ally, for what officials said was an operation for a pelvic abscess, but turned into an uncharacteristically quiet and prolonged absence.
Officials in Caracas have insisted that Chavez, 56, is recovering well and continuing to give orders from Cuba, and keeping abreast of developments in Venezuela.
And relatively few words from someone known for his verbal omnipresence left some foes speculating he might have had plastic surgery or might want to drum up sympathy for his illness ahead of a 2012 election in which he will seek a third term.
Chavez arrived in Cuba on June 8 on the final leg of a trip authorized by the National Assembly that also included Brazil and Ecuador. He was rushed into emergency surgery after suffering sharp pain diagnosed as a pelvic abscess that required immediate surgery.
Opposition legislators, who control 40 percent of Venezuela's single-chamber legislature, argue that his prolonged absence means that Vice President Elias Jaua should replace him.
Chavez is Communist Cuba's main economic and political ally. His cut-rate oil keeps the cash-strapped and isolated Raul Castro regime afloat.