BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Argentine President Cristina Fernandez needs one more week's rest before she can go back to work after head surgery, doctors announced Monday, recommending that she not resume formal activities before Nov. 18.
That would add up to a six-week absence for the normally loquacious leader, who has vastly increased executive power during her eight years in the presidency, and many Argentines have wondered out loud who has been making decisions in her stead.
The 60-year-old leader has been in total seclusion, following doctors' orders to avoid all stress, since neurosurgeons opened her skull on Oct. 8 to remove blood from burst vessels that had been pressuring her brain.
The doctors' report on Monday was positive, saying she has no major heart trouble other than an occasional blockage on her left side that requires continued monitoring.
Presidential spokesman Alfredo Scoccimarro said that the return date was set by her surgeons at Favaloro hospital but that all future reports on her health will come instead from the presidential medical unit.
Argentines are ill-accustomed to silence from Fernandez, and even her small circle of close advisers has had reduced access to her, sending conflicting messages about how involved she has been with the country's day-to-day affairs.
For a leader who is usually on television nearly every day and capable of sending dozens of Twitter messages at a time, the situation has prompted no end of conspiracy theories about her intentions.
Vice President Amado Boudou, still nominally in charge, has tried to tamp down the speculation.
"Not one day has she left aside her administration," he insisted at a rally Monday. "We're very happy that she's returning. Be strong, Cristina!"