Update, Tuesday, 5:07 p.m. Eastern: Hugo Chavez is dead. Click here for more updates.
Original post: Venezuela's vice president went on TV Thursday evening to bat back rumors that Hugo Chávez has died. He didn't do much to encourage the Venezuelan people about their president's health, either. Quite specifically, Nicolás Maduro said that Chávez "is battling there for his health, for his life, and we're accompanying him." Besides implying that Chávez is still alive, this does not actually offer any news of progress, since over two months ago Maduro said the Venezuelan president "is fighting a great battle ... for his life, for his health." Two months of fighting for one's life is not encouraging. No worries. A recent poll says that nearly 60 percent of Venezuelans believe Chávez will recover and return to power.
Maduro's latest however repetitive report about Chávez's health came less than 24 hours after CNN Chile falsely reported that the leader had died. The network attributed the news to Panamanian diplomat Guillermo Cochez who said, "I challenge the Venezuelan government to prove me wrong, and to present President Chávez so that it's known whether what I say is the truth or a lie." And so it appears the Venezuelan government heard the challenge. Nevertheless, we do know that Chávez has been breathing through a tube since a serious respiratory infection that followed four cancer surgeries, and he hasn't been seen publicly since December 11 of last year. The man is in very, very poor health. If he's not facing death yet, Chávez is certainly knocking on its door.