The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is situated on the northern coast of South America. Home to an estimated population of 29.1 million, it covers around 916,445 square kilometres which includes the Andes mountains and the Amazon Basin Rainforest. Its main export is oil. Venezuela was colonized by Spain in 1522 but continued resistance led in 1811 to it becoming the first Spanish American country to declare independence. A chequered political history followed which saw dictatorships rise and fall, as well as military coups. The current president is founder of the Revolutionary Bolivarian Movement-200, Hugo Chávez.
Venezuela says ailing Chavez faces more treatment
Associated Press in Caracas
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s condition has improved and he is now optimistic as he faces more treatment following cancer surgery, his vice president said on Saturday.
Vice President Nicolas Maduro said after meeting with Chavez in Cuba that the ailing president is now “in the best moment we’ve seen him in these days of struggle” following his Dec. 11 cancer surgery. Chavez hasn’t been seen or spoken publicly since before the operation, and his government has said he suffered complications including a severe respiratory infection but has recently been getting better.
Maduro spoke on state television early on Saturday after returning from Havana to Venezuela. He said he was leaving shortly for a summit meeting in Chile and was taking a written message from Chavez.
“We’re taking a message prepared by the president, and we’re going to turn it over to heads of state who attend the CELAC summit. He makes fundament proposals,” Maduro said, adding that the message was in his handwriting.
Maduro said Chavez also sent messages for Venezuelans, including that he said he was “very optimistic in what we’re doing.” Maduro said that referred to the president’s treatment and that Chavez is “hanging on to Christ and to life.”
The vice president, whom Chavez designated as his successor before the operation, spoke on television surrounded by officials including Defence Minister Diego Molero and Information Minister Ernesto Villegas. Maduro said that Villegas would give a more detailed update on Chavez’s health later on Saturday.
Chavez has undergone repeated surgeries, chemotherapy and radiation treatment for an unspecified type of pelvic cancer. He has undergone much of his treatment in Cuba.
The 58-year-old president won re-election in October, and lawmakers indefinitely put off his inauguration earlier this month in a decision that was condemned by opponents but upheld by the Supreme Court.