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Hugo Chavez's health deteriorates: minister

Mexico, Mar5 (IANS/RIA Novosti): The health condition of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who is currently in a military hospital in Caracas, has deteriorated, the authorities said Tuesday.

"Chavez suffers from deterioration in his respiratory system," Venezuelan Communications and Information Minister Ernesto Villegas told national television.

The 58-year-old leader, who has ruled Venezuela for 13 years, underwent four surgeries and four courses of chemotherapy in Cuba and Venezuela within the past two years. His fourth operation, to remove cancerous tissue, took place in Cuba Dec 11.

Chavez has encountered a new severe respiratory infection, he added.

His new term's inauguration had been slated for Jan 11, but he was unable to attend it for health reasons. On Jan 9, Venezuela's Supreme Court ruled to postpone Chavez's inauguration until he completed his latest round of treatment.

On Sunday, Chavez's deputy Nicolas Maduro said, the president was "battling for his life".

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