Venezuelan TV Airs New Video of Chavez

Posted June 29th, 2011 at 6:10 pm (UTC-5)
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Venezuelan state television aired new footage Wednesday of President Hugo Chavez, whose prolonged stay in Cuba after surgery has triggered speculation about his health.

The footage showed the 56-year-old president walking and talking with his friend, former Cuban leader Fidel Castro. The two are seen in a garden in Cuba, where Mr. Chavez underwent emergency surgery on June 10.

President Chavez appeared lucid and talkative, as he and Mr. Castro discussed content in Cuba's state-run newspaper Granma. The footage, which included audio from the conversation, was shot on Tuesday. Portions of the footage, without audio, aired Tuesday on Cuban television.

Venezuelan Vice President Elias Jaua told state television the video is evidence Mr. Chavez is “on the road to recovery.”

Authorities have said President Chavez's June 10 operation was for an abscess in his pelvic area. But his prolonged stay in Havana has sparked rumors he may have cancer.

Meanwhile, Venezuela says it has canceled a summit of Latin American leaders scheduled for next week in Caracas, due to Mr. Chavez's health status.

The two-day summit was supposed to be the first meeting of a new regional bloc called the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States . Mr. Chavez was to host the summit, which coincided with the 200th anniversary of Venezuela's independence from Spain.

Venezuelan opposition figures are demanding more information about the president's health, saying Mr. Chavez and his aides should be more straightforward. Some opposition politicians say Vice President Jaua should replace Mr. Chavez until he recovers, a move Jaua has rejected.