CARACAS — Venezuela’s opposition demanded that the government reveal specifics of President Hugo Chavez’s condition Wednesday, criticizing secrecy surrounding the ailing leader’s health more than three weeks after his cancer surgery in Cuba.
The opposition coalition leader, Ramon Guillermo Aveledo, said at a news conference that the information provided by government officials ‘‘continues to be insufficient.’’
Chavez has not been seen or heard from since the Dec. 11 operation, and on Tuesday Vice President Nicolas Maduro said the president’s condition remained ‘‘delicate’’ because of complications from a respiratory infection. Maduro also urged Venezuelans to ignore rumors about Chavez’s condition.
Aveledo said the opposition has been respectful during Chavez’s illness, arguing that ‘‘the secrecy is the source of the rumors.’’
‘‘They should tell the truth,’’ Aveledo said, noting that Maduro had pledged to provide full reports about Chavez’s condition. He reiterated the opposition’s call for the government to release a medical report and said all indications are that Chavez will not be able to be sworn in to begin a new term on Jan. 10.
If Chavez cannot take office on that date, Aveledo said the constitution is clear that the National Assembly president should then take over until an election is held. He said what happens next in Venezuela should be guided by ‘‘the truth and the constitution.’’
If Chavez dies or is unable to continue in office, the constitution says an election should be held within 30 days.
With rumors swirling that Chavez had taken a turn for the worse, Maduro said on Tuesday that he had met with the president twice, had spoken with him and would return to Caracas on Wednesday.
‘‘He’s totally conscious of the complexity of his post-operative state and he expressly asked us ... to keep the nation informed always, always with the truth, as hard as it may be in certain circumstances,’’ Maduro said in the interview in Havana that was broadcast Tuesday night by the Caracas-based television network Telesur.
Both supporters and opponents of Chavez have been on edge in the past week amid shifting signals from the government about the president’s health. Officials have reported a series of ups and downs in his recovery — the most recent, on Sunday, announcing that he faced the new complications from a respiratory infection.
In Washington, the State Department said procedures under the Venezuelan Constitution should be followed if Chavez is no longer able to carry out his duties as president.