- Title: VENEZUELA: Nicolas Maduro rallies thousands of President Hugo Chavez supporters
- Date: 10th January 2013
- Summary: CARACAS, VENEZUELA (JANUARY 10, 2013) (REUTERS) THOUSANDS GATHERED IN STREETS NEAR MIRAFLORES PALACE STREETS JAMMED WITH RED-CLAD SUPPORTERS OF CHAVEZ CHAVEZ SUPPORTERS DANCING PEOPLE MILLING AROUND DURING RALLY
- Embargoed: 25th January 2013 12:00
- Location: Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of
- Country: Venezuela
- Topics: Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA7WBW7DSZ3RLK6AI3FPQZM3GE8
- Story Text: Venezuela's Nicolas Maduro on Thursday (January 10) rallied tens of thousands of supporters of President Hugo Chavez as the leader remained in his sickbed in Cuba.
Speaking outside the Miraflores Palace, Maduro - his voice cracking with emotion at times - constantly invoked the name of the absent leader as a sea of red-clad Chavez supporters listened to a speech punctuated by cheers and chants.
"Just one thought. Tenth of January: Chavez, Chavez, Chavez!"
Thursday marked what should have been the swearing-in of Chavez for a new six-year term.
"Thirty days have passed since the operation on Commander Hugo Chavez and at this very moment, as you know, he is fighting a battle." he continued.
"We tell him from here: 'Commander, easy! Keep up your battle because here you have a Bolivarian government and a revolutionary people!"
The postponement of the inauguration, a first in Venezuelan history, has exposed the gravity of Chavez's condition after complications from a fourth cancer operation in his pelvic area.
It has also left his chosen heir, Maduro - a former bus driver who shares his boss's radical socialist views - in charge of day-to-day government until there is clarity over whether Chavez will recover.
Chavez has not been seen in public nor heard from since his surgery on December 11.
Venezuela's opposition leaders are furious at what they see as a manipulation of the constitution by Maduro, Diosdado Cabello, the head of the National Assembly, and other Chavez allies aimed at preventing the naming of a caretaker president due to Chavez's absence on Thursday.
"They are worried because they say that Diosdado and I are killing each other," Maduro shouted at one point pulling Diosdado next to him where the two hugged and raised their fists.
"We are killing ourselves for the love of the people! We are killing ourselves out of loyalty for Chavez and this country! Here we are with our knee on the ground with Chavez, with the country!"
With government updates short on details, little is known about Chavez's actual medical condition and rumours are flying.
The government's version is that Chavez suffered complications including a severe lung infection after the latest surgery. But speculation is rife on Twitter that he may be on life support or at risk of major organ failure.
He has undergone four operations, as well as weeks of chemotherapy and radiation treatment, since being diagnosed with an undisclosed type of cancer in his pelvic area in June 2011.
He looked to have staged a remarkable recovery from the illness last year, winning a new six-year term in a hard-fought election in October. But within weeks of his victory he had to return to Havana for more treatment.
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