Caracas - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez is being treated for "respiratory deficiency" after complications from a severe lung infection, his government said on Thursday.
The statement pointed to a deepening crisis for the ailing 58-year-old president, who hasn’t been seen or heard from since his 11 December operation in Cuba.
"Chavez has faced complications as a consequence of a severe pulmonary infection. This infection has resulted in a respiratory deficiency, which requires ... strict compliance with his medical treatment," Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said on Thursday night, reading from the statement.
The statement raised the possibility that Mr Chavez might be breathing with the assistance of a machine. But the government did not address that question and didn't give details of the president's treatment.
The government expressed confidence in Mr Chavez's medical team and condemned what it called a "psychological war" in international media surrounding the president's condition. Officials have urged Venezuelans not to heed rumours about Mr Chavez's condition.
In its latest statement, the government didn't point to any particular rumours but state news media are trying to "destabilize" the country and "finish with the Bolivarian Revolution led by Mr Chavez".
Venezuela's opposition has demanded that the government provide more specific information about Mr Chavez's condition.
Mr Chavez has undergone four cancer-related surgeries since June 2011 for an undisclosed type of pelvic cancer. He also has undergone chemotherapy and radiation treatment.