CARACAS - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's breathing problems have worsened and he is suffering from a "severe" new respiratory infection as he struggles to recover from cancer surgery, the government said in a somber update on Monday.
The 58-year-old socialist leader has not been seen in public nor heard from in almost three months since undergoing surgery in Cuba. It was his fourth operation since the disease was detected in mid-2011.
"Today there is a worsening of his respiratory function. Related to his depressed immune system, there is now a new, severe infection," Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said, reading the latest brief, official statement on his condition.
Chavez made a surprise homecoming two weeks ago with none of the fanfare and celebration that accompanied previous returns from treatment in Havana.
The government said Chavez was fighting for his life behind armed guards at a Caracas military hospital.