CARACAS, Monday February 18, 2013 | Update
CHÁVEZ'S HEALTH | Authorities called people to preserve public order

Chávez's supporters rally outside hospital in Caracas

Top officials reported on Twitter that President Hugo Chávez's followers are rallying in support of the Venezuelan president. Communication and Information Minister urged people to remain calm. Fireworks were launched near the hospital in celebration of Chávez's return

Monday February 18, 2013  10:30 AM
Supporters of Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez gather nearby the premises of the Military Hospital in Caracas, where the Venezuelan leader will continue his post-surgery recovery.

In the meantime, senior officials called upon citizens to remain calm. Information Minister Ernesto Villegas reminded citizens that patients in hospital needed some rest.

The Venezuelan head of state returned to Venezuela at 2:30 a.m after having completed the first stage of his recovery in Havana. Chávez underwent his fourth cancer surgery last December 11 in Cuba. 

Science, Technology, and Innovation Minister Jorge Arreaza twitted that fireworks exploded near the hospital in celebration of the leader's return.

For his part, Foreign Minister Elías Jaua posted on his Twitter account, "The commander needs some tranquility so as to continue recovering. Now more than ever, discipline and serenity (are needed)."
Ailing healthcare system seeking a cure

The news marked an ominous beginning, health-wise, of the year 2015: the Cardiovascular Surgery Unit at Hospital Clínico Universitario, one of the country's largest teaching hospitals, was to close completely on January 5 due to lack of medicines and surgical supplies. All patients who were waiting to be operated on were sent home. More than 10 patients waiting for surgery reportedly died there from lack of basic medical supplies in the two months prior to the closure.

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