LATIN AMERICA

Students demand to be told the truth about Chávez's health

The 58-year-old president is still governing the country from his bed at a military hospital

Chávez supporters take part in a government-convened demonstration. / MIGUEL GUTIÉRREZ (EFE)

Dozens of Venezuelan students, who chained themselves to one another in the middle of a busy Caracas street, continued to demand on Wednesday that the government provide a public explanation of the real state of President Hugo Chávez's health and whether he will be able to govern.

"We are going to stay here as long as it is necessary," Vilca Fernández told the Caracas daily El Nacional. "We are calling on all Venezuelans to join the protest until the government gives us the truth."

Pressure from the opposition about Chávez's health has grown since the Venezuelan leader returned home in secret on February 18 after spending 72 days in Cuba recovering from major cancer surgery. Even some in his ruling Socialist Party (PSUV) are wondering whether their fiery leader will be able to serve out the fourth term he was elected to last October.

Despite not being able to speak due to an incision in his windpipe to help him breathe, and the fact that he missed his Supreme Court swearing-in on January 10, the 58-year-old Chávez is still governing the country from his bed at a military hospital, Vice President Nicolás Maduro said.

Opposition leaders, such as Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma, called on the government to listen to the students "because they are concerned about the country."

"This isn't an issue of party color," he said on Wednesday.

Last week, students clashed with National Guard troops in front of the Cuban Embassy. They were protesting what they say is Havana's interference in Venezuelan affairs.

 

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