Chavez left bleeding after cancer operation

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Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez suffered bleeding as a result of a six-hour operation in Cuba meant to treat a third bout of cancer, the government has said.

The 58-year-old socialist leader needed “corrective measures” that stopped the bleeding, information minister Ernesto Villegas said last night.

“This process of recovery will take time because of the complexity of the operation,” Mr Villegas said on national television. “The patient is in a progressive and favourable recovery of normal vital signs.”

The ashen faces of cabinet ministers and sober tone of the terse official statements since the operation appear to suggest top government officials are preparing for the worst.

Mr Chavez won re-election by a big margin in October and is due to start a new six-year term on 10 January. According to the constitution, if he is unable to do so, a new election must be held within 30 days.

The president has refused to divulge the details of the cancer diagnosed in mid-2011 and has twice declared he was cured.