Reporting from Caracas, Venezuela, and Bogota, — Casting more uncertainty on the health of President Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's Foreign Ministry announced Wednesday that it has canceled a summit of foreign leaders scheduled for next week that Chavez was to have presided over to mark Venezuela's bicentennial independence celebration.
The ministry statement said the Latin America and Caribbean Summit on Development and Integration would not be held because Chavez is in a "process of recuperation and extremely strict medical treatment" in Cuba.
The summit, set for July 6-7 on Margarita Island, was to have followed a massive state celebration still scheduled for Tuesday to mark the nation's 1811 independence. It is not known whether Chavez will return by Tuesday.
Since announcing that Chavez had undergone surgery in Cuba on June 10 to remove a "pelvic abscess," the Venezuelan government has said nothing about the nature of his illness or when he might return. The lack of information has led to speculation on the nature of Chavez's illness and whether he will be able to resume his duties or run for reelection next year. Officials have denied that Chavez has cancer.