Battling a new infection, Chavez has breathing problems
March 5, 2013 -- Updated 1855 GMT (0255 HKT)
- NEW: "The president continues to hold fast to Christ and to life," says Ernesto Villegas
- The information minister says the president's condition remains "very delicate"
- The government has never said what type of cancer Hugo Chavez has
(CNN) -- Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is fighting a new infection, and his breathing problems have worsened, Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said late Monday.
"There is a worsening of the respiratory function, related to the state of his depressed immune system," Villegas said, reading an official statement on state-run VTV.
Opinon: Isn't it time to respect Venezuela's democracy?
He reported Chavez is battling a new and "severe" infection, stressing that his overall condition remains "very delicate." Chavez is undergoing chemotherapy and other treatments, he said.
"The president continues to hold fast to Christ and to life, aware of the difficulties he's facing," Villegas said.
Hugo Chavez's 'bleak' diagnosis
Venezuelan diplomat: Chavez is in charge
Chavez, 58, first announced he had cancer in 2011. He spent more than two months in treatment in Cuba recently, returning to Venezuela two weeks ago.
Chavez: Survivor and Venezuela's long-serving president
The government has never specified what kind of cancer Chavez has.
Vice President Nicolas Maduro said Friday that Chavez is "fighting for his life." The president began chemotherapy after his fourth cancer surgery in Cuba in December, and he is continuing the "intense" treatment at a military hospital in Caracas, according to Maduro.
Read more on CNN Español
Since Chavez underwent surgery on December 11, government accounts about his health have been vague.
After previous procedures, Chavez called state television to offer upbeat, if vague, reports on his condition. There have been no such calls in recent weeks, and he has not been seen in public.
The last glimpse Venezuelans had of their leader was last month when the government released a series of photographs that showed a smiling Chavez -- his face bloated -- lying on a blue pillow, flanked by his two daughters.
The president's allies maintain he is continuing to run the country, while critics say Venezuela is in limbo without a leader, and are demanding more details on his health.
CNN's Mariano Castillo contributed to this report.
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
April 11, 2013 -- Updated 1904 GMT (0304 HKT)
Less than six weeks after President Hugo Chavez's death, Venezuelans will head to the polls Sunday to pick a new leader.
March 8, 2013 -- Updated 1736 GMT (0136 HKT)
The poor, usually marginalized by Latin American politicians, became Chavez's main weapon.
March 14, 2013 -- Updated 1146 GMT (1946 HKT)
The plan to embalm the body of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez may have hit a snag.
March 9, 2013 -- Updated 0331 GMT (1131 HKT)
The body of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is the latest in a long line of world leaders whose remains have been embalmed and displayed.
March 6, 2013 -- Updated 1038 GMT (1838 HKT)
Hugo Chavez, the polarizing president of Venezuela who cast himself as a "21st century socialist" and foe of the United States, died Tuesday.
What is your reaction to President Chavez's death? How do you think it will affect Venezuela's politics? How does is affect your country?
March 5, 2013 -- Updated 2307 GMT (0707 HKT)
CNN's Rafael Romo looks back at the life of recently deceased Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez.
March 4, 2014 -- Updated 1907 GMT (0307 HKT)
Venezuela has been transformed while Chavez was in office. Browse through the picture to explore his legacy.
March 5, 2013 -- Updated 2156 GMT (0556 HKT)
A look back and the life and legacy of Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez. CNN's Jim Clancy reports.
March 6, 2013 -- Updated 1104 GMT (1904 HKT)
Hugo Chavez played key role in focusing attention on the poor. But Frida Ghitis says in the process of helping the poor, he undermined the democracy.
March 8, 2013 -- Updated 1338 GMT (2138 HKT)
Jesse Jackson: Chavez's death an opportunity for U.S. and Venezuela to heal relations.
March 6, 2013 -- Updated 1539 GMT (2339 HKT)
The death of the charismatic but controversial leader leaves many unanswered questions that Venezuela and the world must now grapple with.
March 6, 2013 -- Updated 0135 GMT (0935 HKT)
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez sings with CNN's Larry King prior to his 2009 interview.
March 6, 2013 -- Updated 1406 GMT (2206 HKT)
News of Chavez's death drew impassioned reactions from around the world, as leaders and other public figures weighed in on his legacy.
March 6, 2013 -- Updated 0724 GMT (1524 HKT)
CNN looks back at some of the more memorable things President Hugo Chavez said during his life -- like calling George Bush the devil.
March 6, 2013 -- Updated 1034 GMT (1834 HKT)
He began his career as a bus driver, then rose through the ranks to become a member of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's inner circle.
March 6, 2013 -- Updated 0753 GMT (1553 HKT)
Chavez will be remembered for improving the wealth and political participation of the poor. But his death leaves an economy in tatters, some say.
March 6, 2013 -- Updated 0333 GMT (1133 HKT)
Kevin Spacey, Naomi Campbell, Diego Maradona. Browse through the pictures of Hollywood icons and global superstars that met Chavez.
March 6, 2013 -- Updated 1041 GMT (1841 HKT)
Chavez cultivated a larger-than-life appearance. But even after years in office, his legacy may be more fleeting than his outsize personality suggested.
March 5, 2013 -- Updated 2240 GMT (0640 HKT)
Watch: In a 2009 interview, Larry King talks to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez about Obama and Venezeula's global role.
Get the latest news, analysis, commentaries and videos from Venezuela in Spanish language on CNN Español.