Hugo Chavez's post-surgery medical woes continue: The Venezuelan president is grappling with complications from a "severe lung infection," according to officials. The infection has prompted a "respiratory insufficiency," says the country's information minister. Chavez hasn't been seen publicly since the surgery, which occurred Dec. 11, the BBC notes. But he is "conscious," the official says, telling people not to believe rumors about the president's health.
Media speculation amounts to a "psychological war" with the "ultimate aim of destabilizing the Bolivarian republic," adds Ernesto Villegas. But it remains unclear how the government will address Chavez's planned inauguration on Jan. 10, the BBC adds. "We can only assume that the looming power vacuum is what drew National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello" to Chavez's bedside this week, writes Sarah Rainsford. Opposition members have suggested the ruling party may be divided over a successor for Chavez, with some backing Cabello and others Vice President Nicolas Maduro. Both men visited a coffee production plant yesterday in a move reminiscent of Chavez, Reuters notes.