Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez continues his treatment in Caracas for the respiratory insufficiency that began after his last operation and whose outlook "has not been favorable," while the treatment for his cancer proceeds without any "significantly adverse" effects, the government said.

"The respiratory insufficiency that came during his postoperative period persists and its outlook has not been favorable, so treatment for it continues," Communication Minister Ernesto Villegas said Thursday as he read the first communique about the state of the president's health since he returned three days earlier to Caracas.

"On the contrary, the medical treatment for the basic illness continues without presenting any significantly adverse effects up to now," the minister said in reference to the cancer, without specifying the exact nature of the treatment.

Chavez, who has been in the Dr. Carlos Arvelo Military Hospital since he arrived in the wee hours Monday in Caracas, was operated in Cuba last Dec. 11 for the fourth time in 18 months for cancer, about which neither its type nor extent have been revealed.

The six-hour operation produced complications that included a hemorrhage and later a pulmonary infection that caused the respiratory insufficiency.

Last week the minister said that Chavez was breathing through a tracheal tube that made it difficult for him to talk. EFE