Despite Death Rumors, Hugo Chavez is Alive But Battling for Life

Despite rumors floating around late Wednesday night that he had died, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez is still alive - but struggling in his fight against cancer, the country's vice president said.

Vice President Nicolás Maduro said on television Thursday that, in his words, Chávez "is battling there for his health, for his life, and we're accompanying him." 

The vice president has used similar phrasing in the past.

Chávez hasn't spoken publicly since before his latest cancer operation in Cuba on Dec. 11. He returned to Venezuela on Feb. 18 and has been undergoing more treatment at a military hospital in Caracas.

On Wednesday night, CNN Chile reported that former Panamanian Ambassador to the Organization of American States Guillermo Cochez said that Chávez had been dead for four days and that his daughters gave the order to take him off life support. Cochez also claimed that Chávez was in a vegetative state since either December 30 or 31 of last year. 

No other major media outlet reported on the alleged death of Chávez, and Cochez's statements have been chalked as a conspiracy theory.

"I challenge the Venezuelan government to prove me wrong, and to present President Chávez so that it's known whether what I say is the truth or a lie," Cochez told CNN Chile.

CNN International's public relations team promptly sent out the tweet that "CNN cannot confirm reports of Hugo Chávez's death" and the article that reported his death was removed from the web. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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