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Venezuela's vice president active in Chavez's absence, inaugurating public housing, schools

Venezuela's vice president has inaugurated new public housing and a public school as he fills in for ailing President Hugo Chavez.

Vice President Nicolas Maduro and other Cabinet ministers are maintaining a steady presence at televised events this week while Chavez remains out of sight in Cuba more than five weeks after cancer surgery.

Maduro attended the opening of a housing project in Caracas on Thursday, and on Friday opened a school in Chavez's home state of Barinas alongside the president's elder brother, Adan.

Those and other appearances by government officials appeared aimed at projecting an image of a government in action even without the presence of a president who usually presides over such events.

Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez told reporters that the government "hasn't stopped, not one minute."

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