There are growing concerns over the health of Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez.
He has not been seen or heard in public since arriving in Cuba three weeks ago for cancer surgery.
In response to opposition demands for the government to “tell the whole truth”, Venezuela’s Vice-President Nicolas Maduro said Chavez was in a “complex and delicate post-operative state.”
Speaking from Havana, he also described how Chavez had gripped his hand with “enormous strength” as they discussed political matters.
The country’s science minister, Jorge Arreaza, who is also Chavez’s son-in-law, revealed on Wednesday that his condition is stable but delicate.
Bolivia’s President Evo Morales, a close friend and ally of Chavez, was in Cuba last week. He described his condition as extremely worrying.
“Hopefully our prayers will help save the life of our brother President Hugo Chavez,” he said.
Chavez, 58, was elected to a fourth term in office in October and it remains unclear what will happen if he cannot attend his swearing-in ceremony next week.
If he dies or steps aside, new election would be held within 30 days, with Maduro running as the Socialist Party candidate.