On December 25, the London Independent headlined "Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez 'improving' after surgery," saying:
Maduro spoke to him by phone. He's up and walking. He's exercising. His spirit is positive.
Venezuelan officials gave "little specific information on (his) condition or his long-term prognosis."
On December 24, AP said Bolivia's Evo Morales was largely "silent" after visiting him in Havana last weekend. His stay was short. He came to express support.
On return to Bolivia, he said nothing further. Maduro and several cabinet ministers attended a Christmas eve mass. They assured Venezuelans that recovery is proceeding on course.
He suggested Chavez may not return by January 10. Attorney General Flores says constitutional authority lets the Supreme Court administer oath of office any time at its discretion if the National Assembly can't do it.
"Those who are counting on that date, hoping to thwart the Revolution and the will of the people, will end up frustrated once again," she said.
"What we have is a president who has been re-elected. He will take over, will be sworn in on that day, or another day. That is a formality."
Caracas District head Jaqueline Farias said "we are very happy because each hour (Chavez shows) signs that he is overcoming this phase of" his surgery.
Another Chavez supporter said Venezuela without him is "like a ship without a rudder." Venezuelans hope he'll recover, return, and continue leading the country.
On December 25, Maduro told them to "let January 10 arrive, and don't fall victim to speculation. The people reelected a president on October 7, and that's Chavez. The rest is speculation."
"What is certain is that the president has a leave of absence granted by the National Assembly to attend to his health."
"If this leave of absence has to be extended beyond January 10, the constitution will be activated and surely his swearing-in would take place before the Supreme Court" on an unspecified date.
Opposition lawyer Ricardo Antela says postponing swearing-in is possible if "by (January 10) there was a medical guarantee, publicly supported by the National Assembly, that the president will recover, and a new date is decided on."