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Chavez’s silence fuels health fears

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has been keeping an atypically low profile as he undergoes cancer treatment in Cuba, prompting his ministers to speak out to quell rumours his health had worsened.

Since arriving in Havana last week for a final round of radiation therapy, the 57-year-old Mr Chavez − usually omnipresent in state media − has only communicated via Twitter and written statements, with no TV appearances.

The last new message on his Twitter feed appeared on Saturday. Some critics suggested the firebrand leftist President may have taken a turn for the worse and slammed what they called his ruling from abroad by tweet.

But his ministers quickly rallied behind their leader, saying nothing was wrong.

“The only one on his last leg is that piece of nothing,” Information Minister Andres Izarra said on Twitter, using a barb Mr Chavez often uses to describe his rival in the October 7 presidential election, Henrique Capriles.

“Chavez, (Foreign Minister) Nicolas (Maduro) and I worked for a while this afternoon. Labour law and productive economy were the topics,” Science and Technology Minister Jorge Arreaza said on his Twitter account.

Mr Chavez had surgery in late February in Havana after a recurrence of the cancer he was originally diagnosed with last year.

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