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“There’s nothing we can do except wait for the government to deign to say how he is really,” said Daniel Jimenez, an opposition supporter who was in a square in an affluent Caracas neighborhood.

Jimenez and many other Venezuelans say it seems increasingly unlikely that Chavez can be sworn in as scheduled Jan. 10 for his new term. If he dies or is unable to continue in office, the Venezuelan Constitution says a new election should be held within 30 days.

Before his operation, Chavez acknowledged he faced risks and designated Maduro as his successor, telling supporters they should vote for the vice president if a new presidential election was necessary.

Maduro didn’t discuss the upcoming inauguration plans, saying only that he is hopeful Chavez will improve.

The vice president said that Chavez “has faced an illness with courage and dignity, and he’s there fighting, fighting.”

“Someone asked me yesterday by text message: How is the president? And I said, ‘With giant strength,’” Maduro said. He recalled taking Chavez by the hand: “He squeezed me with gigantic strength as we talked.”

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Associated Press writer Jorge Rueda contributed to this report.