Communications Minister Ernesto Villegas read a brief statement on national television saying Chavez had “a new and severe infection.” ((Photo by Venezuelan government))

Venezuelan sources: Hugo Chavez is alive

Venezuelan sources tell NBC News that Hugo Chavez is alive and  remains hospitalized in Caracas for “severe respiratory insufficiency.” There has been “no change” in his condition.

There have been reports suggesting that Chavez may have “severe fibrosis” in one lung , caused from an infection he suffered after his last operation in December.

Yesterday, CNN Chile reported that Hugo Chavez had died. The report was based on statements from Guillermo Cochez, a Panamanian lawyer who had been his country’s ambassador to the OAS. He was fired about five weeks ago after criticizing the OAS for declaring that Venezuela had the constitutional right to postpone Chavez’s inauguration. Cochez charged that the OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza had capitulated to Venezuelan pressure. The Panamanian government, distancing themselves from those remarks, removed him from the diplomatic post.

Back in December, before his dismissal, Cochez told the press that he had information indicating that Chavez was brain dead and on a respirator in Cuba.

That also created a firestorm with the Panamanian government issuing their own statements that essentially labeled Cochez a wild cannon who was speaking on his own.

There are also reports of  beefed up security at the Caracas Military Hospital where Chavez is staying. The government had reports that the student opposition planned a “takeover” of the hospital. Mobs of vigilante-style Chavez supporters started showing up and the government is getting nervous about civil unrest.

Will Chavez take the oath of office anytime soon? From his hospital bed? Seems unlikely.

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