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Venezuela: Thousands rally to support Chavez

Venezuela's Hugo Chavez has the support of thousands chanting outside his presidential palace.

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#3 — Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez — Facebook: 136,956; Twitter: 1,634,460. (JUAN BARRETO/AFP/Getty Images)

Thousands of Venezuelans held a mass rally on Thursday to wish that President Hugo Chavez get well soon.

Supporters crowded outside the presidential palace in Caracas wearing red "I am Chavez" T-shirts, the BBC reported.

Hundreds of National Guard troops and police stood watch on street corners, as people waved posters and watched performances by hip-hop artists, the Associated Press reported.

The rallies come as Chavez, 58, is recovering from cancer surgery. After an operation on Dec. 11, a lung infection — and possibly other ailments — have kept him hospitalized, forcing an indefinite delay in his swearing-in ceremony. The ceremony had previously been scheduled for Thursday.

The National Assembly voted on Wednesday to allow Chavez as much time as he needs to recover.

The Supreme Court also backed the delay. Its president Luisa Estella Morales said Chavez's re-election had guaranteed "continuity" in government.

The opposition has attacked the decision to allow Chavez to remain in power despite missing his own inauguration. Its complaints received some authoritative backing from a group of law professors from universities across Venezuela, which said the move was "unconstitutional" and dismissed Chavista claims that the oath of office was a mere "formality."

Henrique Capriles, who ran Chavez hard in last year's presidential elections before eventually losing by 11 percent, insisted that under the constitution, parliament leader Diosdado Cabello would have to be sworn in as president — implying that new elections would have to be called within 30 days.

"There is a government that has been stopped [in its tracks], is leaderless, paralyzed," he added in an interview with the Venezuelan newspaper El Universal.

He also insisted that if Cabello wasn’t sworn in as president today, opposition supporters would take to the streets to protest.

More from GlobalPost: Chavez to miss swearing-in ceremony in Venezuela

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/venezuela/130110/venezuela-thousands-rally-support-chavez