MIAMI — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who has been fighting cancer, was rushed to a military hospital for emergency care following kidney failure, according to El Nuevo Herald newspaper.
The leftist, staunchly anti-US stalwart Chavez went into the Military Hospital in Caracas on Tuesday morning, the report on the newspaper’s website said, citing anonymous sources with knowledge of the case.
“He was in fairly serious overall condition,” one of the sources told the Miami-based Spanish-language daily. “When he arrived, he was in quite serious shape and that is why he was brought in for emergency care.”
Venezuela’s Information Minister Andres Izarra appeared to deny the report in a posting on the micro-blogging website Twitter.
“Those who should be admitted are the journalists of the Nuevo Herald, except into a madhouse (instead of a hospital),” Izarra tweeted, without providing further details.
On Sunday, Chavez sought to assure Venezuelans he was healthy, telling them that cancer-fighting chemotherapy treatment has not left him with any debilitating side effects.
Chavez returned to Venezuela late last Thursday following what he described as a fourth and hopefully final round of chemotherapy in Cuba.
Chavez, 57, had a cancerous tumor removed on June 20 in Havana, but officials have provided little information about the nature of the disease.
Officials have said the tumor was removed from his “pelvic area,” but have given no indication of the severity of his condition.
After returning to Caracas and giving a brief statement early Friday, he stayed uncharacteristically out of the media spotlight and sent no messages on his Twitter feed, which has more than two million followers.
Official handout photos from Cuban state media showed a hairless Chavez bidding farewell to Cuban leader Raul Castro after completing the latest round of treatment.
But the silence of a leader who has been omnipresent in Venezuelan public life revived the mystery surrounding his health, which only increased on Friday when a meeting between Chavez and his Iranian counterpart Mahmoud Ahmadinejad set for this weekend in Caracas was postponed indefinitely.
Chavez has been in power since 1999 and has said he would recover in time to win re-election by a “knock-out” in 2012.
A vocal critic of the United States, he has used his country’s petrodollars to become the region’s leading sponsor of leftist cooperation agreements, subsidizing oil distribution and helping prop up the Cuban regime, the Americas’ only one-party communist government.