Physicians caring for Hugo Chávez in Havana have notified his family, the Castro brothers, and the main chavista leaders that their patient will no longer be able to return to his functions as president of Venezuela.
This is according to sources in direct contact with his medical team, who also indicate that Chávez has lost his voice completely as a result of medical treatment. His vocal cords have endured permanent damage making recuperation highly unlikely. Speechless and unable to move from the bed in which he has spent the last two months, our sources tell us the president is “very depressed.”
A public announcement by the government explaining that Chavez will be unable to resume his duties will be released in the upcoming days, and has already been circulating among members of the Supreme Court.
More than sixty days from his last public appearance on December 8, when he announced in Caracas that he would be subjected to a fourth operation in Havana, which took place three days later, President Chavez continues to endure a marked deterioration, but without reaching the extreme gravity he experienced in late December, when he nearly died.
Although the Chavez family knew that the president’s cancer, a case of rhabdomyosarcoma, was terminal, a formal communication from his doctors stating that he would not be able to return to the presidency shocked his inner circle. Those who are familiar with the intricacies of the upper levels of Venezuelan government report that the last hours have been marked by utter dismay. The medical communication should lead to the declaration of incapacity or absence of the president. The notice circulated to the Venezuelan Supreme Court – an institution that supported the continuation of Chavez’s presidency in Havana despite constitutional doubts on the subject – shows that it is preparing to endorse the government’s next steps.
Chavez has remained in bed for two months, a timespan in which Venezuelans have not been provided with any images or voice recordings of their president. Despite the loss of his voice, Vice President Nicolas Maduro said his superior had recently dictated certain economic orders.
His gaunt appearance and persistent respiratory complications have prevented Chavez from issuing a message to his country. His complex invasive surgery – a complicated pelvic extraction – was followed by a severe lung infection in the post-operative stages.
Although a slight improvement has enabled him to conclude the post-operative stage, he has not been able to improve from the extraction of cancerous cells during his last operation. The aggressive progression of his disease has become evident.
In its public statements, the Venezuelan government has reported, with its excessive fanfare, the slow recovery of the president. However, it has failed to report certain setbacks such as heart failure and a 14-minute coma on January 5, and the progression of his metastasis.
Chavez’s condition has kept him from travelling to Caracas for his presidential inauguration. Initially it was thought that Chavez would be able to return to Havana for treatment after his inauguration. Recent developments indicate the likely definitive move would be to return Chávez to the Venezuelan capital to wait for a final outcome.