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Hugo Chavez is ‘gaining strength,’ says VP Nicolas Maduro

Hugo Chavez, Venezuela’s ailing leader, is preparing to enter a ‘second stage of recovery,’ according to Maduro.

Hugo Chavez, Venezuela’s ailing leader, is “gaining strength” following complications from his cancer surgery last month in Cuba, according to Vice President Nicolas Maduro. 

Chavez was supposed to be sworn in for a new term as president of the oil-rich country on January 10, but has not appeared in public nor returned from Havana since December, BBC News reported

He is reportedly being treated from complications from the surgery that have resulted in a severe lung infection, RIA Novosti reported

Maduro visited Chavez January 14, and told Televen television network Sunday that the president was on the mend.

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“He is stabilizing in all his medical indicators, in the function of his organs, in all his fundamental vital indicators and is fully conscious,” Maduro said, Bloomberg Businessweek reported. “He is gaining vital strength to begin a second stage of recovery that will be announced through official reports.”

He also said that he as well as other government officials “are always optimistic that we are going to have the president here with us sooner rather than later,” though he did not specify if or when Chavez would make his return to Venezuela, according to the Associated Press

Chavez was reportedly transferred from intensive care to “a secret underground bunker-hospital in Havana” designed for Fidel Castro on Friday, Univision reported, according to RIA Novosti. 

Maduro, who was hand-picked by Chavez to be his successor, also noted that the 58-year-old was “very interested in oil prices” when he visited his bedside, BBC reported.