Venezuela Confronts 'Gravity' of Chavez Illness
'Comandante' in stable condition after surgery: doctors
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Dec 13, 2012 2:00 AM CST
People, one holding an image of Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez, gather to pray for him at Simon Bolivar square in Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012.   (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

(Newser) – Venezuela's government sees "difficult" times on the horizon as the ailing Hugo Chavez undergoes a "difficult, complex, and delicate" recovery from surgery. His doctors say he's in stable condition, and "we trust that, with the love of millions, the Comandante will get well soon and return to the helm before Jan. 10," his next inauguration date, says an official. "But if that isn't the case, the people should understand that. It would be irresponsible to hide the gravity of the current moment."

Still, some critics in the country say the government is keeping things too quiet. The mayor of Caracas says officials are operating with nearly "total secrecy" when "the broader Venezuelan public has the right to be told every detail of this issue." Were Chavez to die or resign, the country's constitution gives 30 days for a new election. But it's not certain what would happen if he simply couldn't make it to the inauguration; the head of the legislature might become acting president, the Wall Street Journal notes.