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'Everything is going well' for Chavez after cancer surgery

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Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By The Associated Press
Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012, 9:52 p.m.
 

CARACAS — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was recovering after a successful cancer operation in Cuba, his vice president said on Tuesday.

Vice President Nicolas Maduro said the surgery was both “complex” and successful. Maduro made the announcement on Venezuelan television, flanked by other Chavez aides and military commanders.

It was the fourth cancer-related operation that Chavez has undergone since June 2011.

Three days before the surgery, Chavez had announced that he needed to have surgery again after tests showed “some malignant cells” had reappeared in the same area of his pelvic region where tumors had been removed.

During the surgery, close Chavez ally Tareck El Aissami had said on television: “Everything is going well.”

On the streets of Caracas, Venezuelans on both sides of the country's deep political divide voiced concerns about Chavez's condition and what might happen if he ultimately doesn't survive his illness.

“It's difficult to think about Venezuela without Chavez,” said Rafael Perdomo, a mechanic who has supported the president since 1998, when he first ran for the presidency. “I fear that we, the poor, could lose everything if Chavez dies.”

Chavez recently said for the first time that if his illness cuts short his presidency, Maduro should take his place and be elected president to continue on with his socialist movement. But Perdomo said he doesn't trust Maduro the way he trusts Chavez.

Other Venezuelans said while they're sorry about Chavez's health situation and wish him the best, it isn't a particular concern for them. Many were out buying Christmas gifts and shopping for food as they prepared for the holiday season.

“I'm sorry about what is happening to the president, but for many of us, life goes on,” said Maria Colmenares, a housewife and opposition supporter.

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