"In the last few hours his process of recovery has evolved from stable to favorable, which allows us to continue saying that there is a growing recovery in Comandante Hugo Chavez's situation," Nicolas Maduro told a state-televised rally of cheering United Socialist Party supporters ahead of Sunday's gubernatorial elections.
At the same time, Maduro reminded supporters, Chavez "gave the order" before flying to Havana "to prepare our people for any circumstance."
Chavez said in televised remarks at the presidential palace Saturday: "There are risks. Who can deny it? In any circumstance, we should guarantee the advance of the Bolivarian Revolution."
Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said earlier Thursday the 58-year-old president suffered unexpected internal bleeding after 6 hours of cancer surgery in Cuba Tuesday, but Maduro told the supporters in Maracay, Aragua, 75 miles southwest of the capital Caracas, surgeons took "corrective measures" to control the bleeding.
The supporters chanted: "And he will live! And he will live! The comandante will live!"
Maduro said Chavez would need a "delicate and prolonged process of post-operation recovery."
Villegas said on the Information Ministry's website Wednesday Chavez might not be able to return to Venezuela for his Jan. 10 inauguration for a new six-year term.
In that case, "the people should be prepared to understand," Villegas said, adding. "It would be irresponsible to hide the delicacy of the present moment and the days to come."
Chavez's operation was his fourth after he announced June 30, 2011, he was recovering from a June 10 operation to remove an abscessed cancerous tumor. He has since said he had other tumors.
He and his government have never said what type of cancer Chavez has or where the tumors were.
U.S. journalist Dan Rather reported in May Chavez had metastatic rhabdomyosarcoma, a rare, aggressive cancer of connective tissues, most common in children, that often attacks the head, neck and genitourinary tract.
Treatment usually involves chemotherapy, radiation therapy and sometimes surgery. But doctors say surgery may be difficult or impossible because of the tumor's location.
Unless the cancer has metastasized, or spread to another non-adjacent organ or part of the body, surgery combined with chemotherapy and radiation can offer a good prognosis, doctors say.
Maduro apologized to supporters for "our sad faces." But he said they were "an expression of pain and the purest love we feel for Hugo Chavez."
Chavez said in his televised remarks Saturday he wanted Maduro to replace him if "something were to happen that would incapacitate me."