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“President Chavez’s state of health continues to be delicate, with complications that are being attended to, in a process not without risks,” Mr. Maduro said, reading from a prepared statement and seated alongside Chavez family members.

The vice president’s comments suggest an increasingly bleak outlook for the ailing president. The Venezuelan leader has not been seen since undergoing his fourth cancer-related surgery Dec. 11.

HONG KONG

Scuffles break out at pro-government march

Scuffles between pro- and anti-government demonstrators broke out Sunday as thousands marched in support of Hong Kong’s scandal-plagued leader Leung Chun-ying, ahead of a mass pro-democracy rally planned for New Year’s Day.

About 2,500 people took to the cold and windy streets waving Chinese flags and shouting slogans in support of Mr. Leung, who faces possible impeachment proceedings over illegal alterations to his luxury home.

Mr. Leung was chosen to lead the southern Chinese city in March by a pro-Beijing election committee, promising to improve governance and uphold the rule of law in the former British colony of 7 million people.

But in his first six months in power, Mr. Leung has seen his popularity ratings slide and has faced a no-confidence vote in the city’s legislature.

From wire dispatches and staff reports