A student holds her teacher’s hand at the start of the school day at the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela school where a poster of Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez hangs on the wall in Havana, Cuba, Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2012. Chavez was recovering in Cuba on Tuesday after an operation targeting an aggressive cancer that has defied multiple treatments and has prompted the socialist leader to name a political successor. (AP Photo/Franklin Reyes)
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — The government 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, officials strove to show a united front amid the growing worries about Chavez’s health and the country’s future. Key leaders of Chavez’s party and military officers appearing together on television as Maduro took the lead in giving updates on Chavez’s condition.
“We’re more united than ever,” said Maduro, who was flanked by National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello and Oil Minister Rafael Ramirez, both key members of Chavez’s inner circle. “We’re united in loyalty to Chavez.”
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.
Cabello, a former military officer who also wields power within Chavez’s movement, shared the spotlight with Maduro by speaking at a Mass for Chavez’s health at a military base. Cabello, who had accompanied Chavez to Cuba for the operation, denied rumors of the president’s demise.
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