By Jill Dougherty and Jamie Crawford
Speculation is swirling that Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is sicker than the government is letting on and there is some thought the United States may be trying to influence the socialist leader’s transition from power.
Chavez, 58, has not been seen in public since arriving in Cuba for his fourth cancer operation more than three weeks ago.
A top Venezuelan official said on Thursday that Chavez was suffering from a severe lung infection that has caused respiratory failure. The type of cancer he is fighting has not been disclosed and there was no word on his prognosis.
The National Institutes of Health says the outlook for respiratory failure “depends on the severity of its underlying cause, how quickly treatment begins” and overall health of the patient.
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