Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro has accused the United States of being behind rumours that the socialist president may be dead from cancer.
Apart from one set of photographs showing Mr Chavez in a hospital bed, he has not been seen or heard from in public since 11 December cancer surgery in Cuba.
That was his fourth such operation since his June 2011 diagnosis.
After more than two months of in a Cuban hospital, Mr Chavez returned to Caracas last week where he is being treated at a military hospital.
After inaugurating a chapel on the grounds of the military hospital where Chavez is being treated, Mr Maduro said a right-wing group based in Miami is behind the rumours.
"They're part of a wing of the imperial power of the United States that's the wing that has made more disasters and wars in our continent," he said.
Mr Chavez has been the most vocal critic of Washington in Latin America and financed hefty aid programs for leftist governments from Cuba to Bolivia.
Amid the flurry of rumours, Spain's ABC newspaper said yesterday that Mr Chavez had been taken to a presidential retreat on La Orchila island in the Caribbean off Venezuela's coast with his closest family to face the "final stages" of cancer.
Venezuelan officials have frequently lambasted ABC as being part of an "ultra-right" conspiracy spreading lies about Mr Chavez but Venezuelan opposition politicians accuse the government of being deceitful about the president's condition.
Mr Maduro, now Venezuela's de facto leader and Mr Chavez's preferred successor, said that after a lengthy recovery battling a post-operative respiratory infection, the president wanted to return to his homeland for chemotherapy and radiation treatment.
"He made the decision to return to Venezuela. He told them, 'I'm going to start a new phase with the complimentary treatments (chemotherapy and radiation), which will be more intense, more difficult, and I want to be in Caracas so do everything
that possible to return to Caracas in a safe way.' And that's what we did," he said.
In the latest of short updates on Mr Chavez's health, the government said last week his breathing difficulties had grown worse, and he was using a tracheal tube.
Mr Maduro has said repeatedly during the week that Chavez is fighting for his life and that his health problems were due to neglecting his personal health because he put national concerns ahead of himself.
"The treatments that Comandante Chavez is receiving are hard but he has right now a strength stronger than that of the treatments that he's receiving and he is in good spirits, battling, receiving his treatments.
“And we must leave him alone, at peace, he has a right that his treatments be respected because he's a man who has given it all for our fatherland," he said.
Mr Chavez has never said what type of cancer he has.
Two opinion polls this week showed that a majority of Venezuelans, 60% in one survey and 57%in another, believe he will be cured.
Mr Chavez's millions of passionate supporters, who love his down-to-earth style and heavy spending of oil revenue on welfare policies, are struggling to imagine Venezuela without him.