Thousands of Venezuelans rallied for President Hugo Chavez across the nation on Sunday, just hours before the government announced that he is responding favourably to treatment for a respiratory infection.
The rallies were organised as a popular answer to complaints by the opposition that it was unconstitutional for the government to postpone the socialist leader's inauguration, which had been set for Thursday.
The opposition had also been demanding the government provide more information about Mr Chavez's medical condition.
President Chavez is suffering from a severe respiratory infection that he contracted after a fourth round of cancer surgery on December 11 in Cuba.
Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said on Sunday night that Mr Chavez is conscious and is now responding to treatment for the infection.
"The infection is under control," but Mr Chavez "still requires specific measures for a solution to respiratory insufficiency," he said, reading a statement on state television.
In Caracas on Sunday, close Chavez confidant and former vice-president Elias Jaua urged government supporters to "be active in defence of the constitution, in defence of Commander Hugo Chavez's popular mandate."
Opposition leaders claim that they are not trying to stir up conflict, but Mr Jaua warned that some right-wing activists are seeking violent upheaval.
"Despite the position that many Venezuelans may have against the revolutionary project, nobody wants to see a fragmented Venezuela, a Venezuela involved in a civil war," he noted.
"That's only what Venezuela's sick rightwingers want."