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Venezuelan VP accuses media of ‘lying’ about Chavez’s health

Venezuela's Vice-President Nicolas Maduro pauses during his speech at a rally in Caracas on Feb. 27, 2013. Mr. Maduro accused “fascist” foreign media on March 1 of “lying” about the health of President Hugo Chavez as part of a campaign to destabilize the nation.

Carlos Garcia Rawlins/Reuters

Venezuela's vice-president accused "fascist" foreign media Friday of "lying" about the health of President Hugo Chavez as part of a campaign to destabilize the nation.

Nicolas Maduro, the president's political heir, said Mr. Chavez was undergoing a "complex and difficult" treatment in a Caracas military hospital, where he checked in last week after two months of cancer treatment in Cuba.

"Stop attacking our comandante, stop the rumors, stop using this situation, which is delicate for everybody, to try to create a destabilization," Maduro said on state-run television.

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Mr. Maduro singled out the conservative Spanish newspaper ABC and Colombian radio Caracol, calling them "fascist" news organizations that are part of a "campaign against the stability of Venezuela, lying about Chavez."

ABC reported on Friday that Mr. Chavez was transferred to the presidential retreat in the island of La Orchilada days ago to spend his final moments with his family there.

Radio Caracol interviewed Panama's former ambassador to the Organization of American States, Guillermo Cochez, who claims that Mr. Chavez has been declared brain dead.

The government says Mr. Chavez remains in charge and even held a five-hour meeting in his Caracas military hospital room last week, but Mr. Maduro said Thursday that he was still "battling for his health, for his life."

Opposition leader Henrique Capriles accused Venezuela's government Friday of repeatedly lying about President Hugo Chavez's condition, and said the truth will be known within days.

Mr. Capriles tweeted the claim as Mr. Maduro tried to reassure Venezuelans about their leader's health.

"We'll see how they explain to the country in the (coming) days all the lies they've been telling about the president's situation," said Mr. Capriles, whom Mr. Chavez defeated in Oct. 7 elections.

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Mr. Chavez has not been seen nor heard from since, other than in some proof-of-life photos released on Feb. 15.

With wires from AFP, AP

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