Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez hit by severe respiratory infection

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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has been hit with a severe respiratory infection, and government officials say his health, already compromised by cancer, is “very delicate.”

The state communications minister gave a brief update on national television, The Associated Press reports, and said Mr. Chavez is struggling with “a new severe infection,” respiratory in nature.

SEE ALSO: Venezuela expels 2 U.S. officials as Chavez worsens

Mr. Chavez hasn’t been seen in public since December, when he received treatment in Cuba for cancer. Protesters just this week have demanded proof he is still alive, and say the one photo that’s been released of Mr. Chavez — in February — doesn’t prove he’s fit to govern.

Government officials, meanwhile, have insisted Mr. Chavez is fit to govern — at least, up to Monday, when they announced his respiratory infection.

Ernesto Villegas, the communications official, said Mr. Chavez is “standing by Christ and life conscious of the difficulties he face,” AP reports.

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