The Hollywood Marxist brigade seen nodding in approval.

(AP) — One of the brothers of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez yesterday said backers of the hospitalised leftist leader should not rule out armed struggle in the future, although they prefer to maintain power at the ballot box.

Adan Chavez’s statement came as speculation mounted about the health of the President, who has been convalescing at an undisclosed location in Cuba after reportedly undergoing emergency surgery 16 days ago.

Mr Chavez’s older brother said Venezuela’s ruling party wanted to retain power by defeating foes in elections. But he told government supporters they should be ready to take up arms if necessary.

“As authentic revolutionaries, we cannot forget other forms of fighting,” he said during a prayer meeting for the health of his 56-year-old brother in the leader’s home state of Barinas.

Quoting Latin American revolutionary Ernesto “Che” Guevara, the President’s brother, a mild-mannered former university physics professor, added: “It would be inexcusable to limit ourselves to only the electoral and not see other forms of struggle, including the armed struggle.”