When Chavez’s return to Caracas was announced Monday, his supporters gathered outside the hospital to celebrate while holding photos of him. But as the days have passed, their numbers have dwindled.
Journalists and television cameras at the entrance have become one of the few signs of anything unusual going on, in addition to the soldiers, police and members of the presidential guard standing watch at entrances, in hallways and on nearby streets.
Juan Bonaire, who works at a bakery across the street, said that apart from the stepped-up security, the area around the hospital looks much the same as always.
The surrounding neighborhood is filled with modest homes and old, weathered buildings where there are businesses including restaurants and shops that cater to patients and hospital workers.
Near the hospital, people put up a banner Thursday with a photo of the president and the slogan: ‘‘Chavez is not a man. He is a nation that advances. We will live and triumph.’’