Share This Page

Chavez critics protest secrecy

| Sunday, March 3, 2013, 8:51 p.m.
AFP/Getty Images
Opposition students protest demanding to know the real situation of President Hugo Chavez's health, in Caracas on March 3, 2013. Chavez is still in charge and mulling political, social and economic policies even as he receives a new round of chemotherapy, his vice president said Saturday.. AFP PHOTO / Leo RAMIREZLEO RAMIREZ/AFP/Getty Images

CARACAS — Hundreds of pro-opposition students and other critics of Hugo Chavez's government marched in Caracas on Sunday to demand proof that the cancer-stricken Venezuelan leader is still alive and governing.

The crowd, including various leaders at the more militant end of the Democratic Unity opposition coalition, sang protest songs and waved banners as they rallied in a central neighborhood on a sweltering morning.

“Give us the truth!” and “Stop lying!” read banners.

Underlining the deep political polarization of the South American nation of 29 million people during Chavez's 14-year rule, hundreds of pro-government students also held a rally in support of the president and his ministers.

With Chavez unseen — apart from one set of photos — since cancer surgery in December, Ven-ezuelans are on edge waiting for developments amid a sea of rumors.

Officials say Chavez is in a Caracas military hospital after returning from Cuba two weeks ago, battling for his life. Though he is breathing via a tracheal tube, unable to speak, and undergoing chemotherapy, the president continues to rule via written and other communications, they say.

Opponents, though, accuse Vice President Nicolas Maduro and others of lying about Chavez's condition. And there have been media and Internet accounts that Chavez may have died — all emphatically denied by the government.

“They are violating the constitution. Venezuela has no authorities right now. President Chavez is sick. He hasn't said a word in two months. He cannot govern,” said protester Maria Montero, a 56-year-old teacher.

“We want impartial spokesmen to give us information about Chavez, real doctors, not politicians,” added Maria Mendoza, 54, who works for the state oil company PDVSA, at the opposition march.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.