CARACAS, Cuba (AFP) - The brother of Hugo Chavez has denied that the ailing Venezuelan president is in coma, saying the Venezuelan leader is responding well to cancer treatment in Cuba and making progress on a daily basis. "Reports that the president is in a coma and that the family is discussing ending life support, are totally false," Adan Chavez, governor of the state of Barinas, said in a statement Saturday. He "continues to respond well to his medical care and to make daily progress in his recovery." Chavez, whose OPEC-member nation controls the world's largest proven oil reserves, has been out of the public eye since undergoing surgery in Havana on December 11. It is the fourth such operation in the 18 months since his condition was made public.

Previously, officials said the fiery leftist leader was suffering from a severe pulmonary infection that resulted in a "respiratory insufficiency". That fueled speculation about his prospects for a full recovery - and his political future.

A recent report in the Spanish newspaper ABC said the Venezuelan president was in an induced coma and on life support.

The uncertainty surrounding Chavez's condition has unsettled Venezuela.

The government was forced to postpone the president's scheduled inauguration Thursday, as it became clear that he could not attend. Authorities insist the country's constitution allows Chavez to take the oath of office at a later time.