Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro spoke on state television on December 30 to announce President Hugo Chavez has suffered "new complications" after cancer surgery in Cuba.
"Yesterday [December 29] we were aware of his situation and how he is responding to his medication. We met numerous times with his medical team and with his family. Just a few minutes ago we were with President Chavez. He greeted us and he himself talked about these complications," Maduro said.
Maduro was speaking from Cuba where he arrived on a sudden and unannounced visit on December 29 to visit Chavez.
"After 19 days after undergoing surgery, President Chavez's state of health continues to be delicate, with complications that are being attended to in a process that is not without risks," Maduro said.
"Thanks to his great physical and spiritual strength, Commander Chavez is confronting this difficult situation. Equally, we are informing you that we have decided to stay in Havana for the next few hours accompanying the commander and his family and very attentive to how his actual situation is developing."
Maduro said he would remain in Cuba "for the coming hours" without specifying how long.
Chavez underwent a fourth surgery for cancer on December 11 and has not been publicly seen or heard from since then.
Officials have never specified what type of cancer Chavez has.
Government officials have mentioned Chavez might not be back in Venezuela for the scheduled January 10 inauguration for his third six-year presidential term.
Before leaving for surgery in Cuba, Chavez designated Maduro as his successor and told supporters to vote for Maduro if a new presidential election was needed.
According to Venezuela's constitution, a presidential election must be held within 30 days of the president is incapacitated or dies before his inauguration.
Venezuela's opposition has dismissed Maduro as being unqualified to lead the South American country.
With both Chavez and Maduro out of the country, Electricity Minister Hector Navarro is currently in charge of running Venezuela.
Based on reporting by AP and Reuters