CARACAS, Venezuela — Information Minister Ernesto Villegas warned Venezuelans on Wednesday that ailing President Hugo Chavez may not be well enough after his fourth cancer-related surgery in Cuba to be inaugurated on Jan. 10.
Moving to prepare the public for the possibility of more bad news, Vice President Nicolas Maduro looked grim earlier in the day when he acknowledged that Chavez faced a “complex and hard” process after his latest surgery.
At the same time, the officials strove to show a united front amid the growing worries about Chavez’s health and the country’s future.
In an apparent symbolic show of unity, Maduro was flanked by National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello and Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez during his television appearance.
Analysts say Maduro could eventually face challenges in trying to hold together the president’s diverse “Chavismo” movement, which includes groups from radical leftists to moderates, as well as military factions.
Tapped by the 58-year-old president over the weekend as his chosen political heir, Maduro is considered to be a member of radical left wing of Chavez’s movement that is closely aligned with Cuba’s communist government.
Venezuelan state television broadcast religious services in which Chavez’s supporters prayed for his health, interspersed with campaign rallies for upcoming gubernatorial elections.