CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is undergoing "extremely complex and tough" treatments following cancer surgery, his vice president said Wednesday.
It was the first time that the government described Chavez's latest treatment following his surgery in those terms. The government has not given details about what sort of treatments Chavez is now undergoing in Havana, more than two months after his fourth cancer-related surgery on Dec. 11.
"You all know that we've gone through extremely complex moments in December, you remember, in January. Later, the whole post-operative cycle concluded. And today our commander is receiving complementary treatments, as we have said, extremely complex and tough treatments," Vice President Nicolas Maduro said on television, without giving details.
"He is carrying out, let's say, assimilating as he would say, in the spirit of battle, but they're complex treatments... that should at some point begin to close the cycle of treatment of his illness," Maduro said. "We have passed along to him all the strength ... and all the love of the Venezuelan people."
Maduro spoke after returning on Wednesday from a trip to Cuba, where Chavez continues to receive medical care. Maduro said he had met with the president's doctors and relatives. He said that the president's elder brother, Adan, had also returned from Cuba to Venezuela on Wednesday.
Chavez hasn't been seen or spoken publicly since Dec. 10, when he traveled to Havana for the operation.
Venezuelans on both sides of the country's political divide have been speculating about the socialist leader's condition amid vague reports about his health, and Maduro's latest remarks seemed likely to feed more speculation.
In other recent updates, government officials have expressed hope of Chavez returning home. In his latest comments, Maduro didn't mention that.
Information Minister Ernesto Villegas had said on Jan. 26 that during the surgery a "malignant lesion" was removed from Chavez's pelvis and that his recovery has been favorable. Villegas also said that Chavez had begun "systemic medical treatment for the fundamental illness."
Medical experts consulted by The Associated Press have said the government's account of "systemic medical treatment" could mean various types of chemotherapy or drug treatments, depending on the type of cancer.
Chavez has had tumors repeatedly removed from his pelvic region, and has also undergone prior rounds of chemotherapy and radiation treatment. The 58-year-old president hasn't revealed the type of the cancer or the precise location of the tumors removed.