Protesters demand details on Chavez’s health

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A crowd of pro-opposition students and other critics of Hugo Chavez’s government marched on Caracas’ supreme court on Sunday to demand proof that the cancer-stricken Venezuelan leader is still alive and fit to govern.

Carrying banners that read “Give us the truth!” and “No to Cuban influence!”, protesters chained themselves outside the court as they rallied against Chavez and vice president Nicolas Maduro.

“We want to know what is going with Chavez’s health, if he is alive or dead, and we want elections,” said Dario Alberici, 55, a public accountant at the protest.

Underlining the political polarisation that has divided Venezuela during Chavez’s 14-year rule, pro-government students also held a rally in support of the president and his ministers. Supporters of the ailing socialist leader danced and sang his praises, hoping that Chavez will make a full recovery from cancer.

“We are showing our love for the president,” said Anaida Nunez, 30, who works in a government food program and wore a green T-shirt with the words “We are millions of Chavez.”

“We are rejecting this small group of young people who are sadly demanding that the president come out,” she said.