Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is "making progress" in his fight against cancer, Vice President Nicolas Maduro said Tuesday.
"The truth is our commander is immersed in a battle," Maduro said. "We could say he is climbing up the hill, he is making progress and that fills us with great joy."
Maduro, who is temporarily in charge of the Venezuelan government, returned to Caracas late Monday after visiting Chavez in Havana, where he is undergoing treatment.
Chavez, 58, was re-elected in October but missed the scheduled swearing-in ceremony for the new term last week. The Supreme Court ruled that his absence would not disqualify Chavez because he is not a newly elected president.
Maduro said he gave Chavez an "update" on government events.
"Our commitment is to work here, everyday, with serenity, confidence and certainty. We tell our people that we need to have the same courage as President Chavez to face everyday difficulties," Maduro said.
He rejected opposition allegations that the Venezuelan government is currently following orders from Cuba's communist government.
"There are some who judge us after the way they themselves act: they go to the United States embassy or to Washington on their knees and they think they see us do that with Cuba," Maduro said.
He thanked Cuban doctors for the care they have given Chavez.
Chavez has undergone four operations for an unspecified form of cancer since mid-2011, the latest of them on December 11.
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