Tom Phillips and Virginia Lopez
The Guardian
June 22, 2011

He is famed as one of the most verbose leaders on earth, a media-obsessed commander-in-chief whose adrenaline-filled speeches often stretch deep into the night.

But recent weeks have seen Hugo Chávez fall silent, as the Venezuelan president recovers from emergency hip surgery in Cuba. His uncharacteristic quietness has fuelled a flurry of speculation and criticism back home.

Since being admitted to hospital in Cuba on 10 June, Chávez has made just two public appearances, showing up last Friday in four photographs alongside the Cuban president, Raúl Castro, and his brother Fidel, and popping up on 12 June for a telephone interview with Venezuela‘s Telesur television network.

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