The vice president expressed faith that Mr. Chavez’s “immense will to live and the care of the best medical specialists will help our president successfully fight this new battle.” He concluded his message saying: “Long live Chavez.”
Mr. Chavez has been in office since 1999 and was re-elected in October, three months after he had announced that his latest tests showed he was cancer-free.
Opposition politicians have criticized a lack of detailed information about Mr. Chavez’s condition, and last week they repeated their demands for a full medical report.
Mr. Villegas defended the government’s handling of the situation, saying during a televised panel discussion Sunday night that Mr. Chavez “has told the truth in his worst moments” throughout his presidency.
He also referred to a new surge of rumors about Mr. Chavez’s condition and called for respect for the president and his family.
Mr. Chavez’s daughter Maria, who has been with the president since his surgery, said in a message on her Twitter account: “Thank you people of Venezuela. Thank you people of the world. You and your love have always been our greatest strength! God is with us! We love you!”
Allies of the president also responded on Twitter, repeating the phrase: “Chavez lives and will triumph.”