Capriles says Venezuela lying about Chavez health

CARACAS: Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles on Thursday again accused the government of lying about the health of cancer-stricken President Hugo Chavez, who is convalescing in Cuba.

"Most probably, they have lied to us about the condition of the president of the republic during the past two months," Capriles told a press conference.

He said authorities in Caracas had already "lied" to the people by saying the national currency would not be devalued -- only to announce the devaluation of the bolivar by more than 30 per cent, which went into effect Wednesday.

"If a person can sign documents, then why can't that person speak to the nation? Therefore, they are lying -- the president is not really speaking or signing anything," Capriles said.

Chavez, 58, has not been seen or heard from since his last cancer operation on December 11 in Havana.

Vice President Nicolas Maduro said Wednesday that the firebrand leftist leader was undergoing "extremely tough and complex" treatment in the Cuban capital.

Declining to provide details about the course of treatment, Maduro insisted that Chavez was facing his medical travails with a "fighting spirit."

Capriles, who lost to Chavez in October's presidential election, however said the president could be in a condition that is "totally different" from what government ministers have described.

The governor of Miranda state refused to say whether he would again run for the presidency should a special election be called if Chavez -- who has been in power since 1999 -- is unable to carry on.

Chavez was too sick to attend his own inauguration on January 10, prompting the government to delay the swearing-in indefinitely under an interpretation of the constitution that was heavily criticized by the opposition.

Throughout his illness, first detected in June 2011, Chavez has refused to relinquish the powers of the presidency.

- AFP/jc

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