Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela has died. The charismatic but sometimes controversial leader died on Tuesday afternoon after a two-year battle with cancer. He was 58.
In a televised address, an emotional and tearful Vice President Nicholas Maduro announced that Chavez had died at 4:25 p.m. “after battling a tough illness over nearly two years”.
Chavez, who first revealed that he was being treated for cancer in 2011, had been battling for his life for almost two years, undergoing four operations in Cuba. He had not been seen in public for several months.
Last night Maduro announced that the ailing President had developed a severe new respiratory infection and had entered “his most difficult hours”.
News of Chavez’s death came as a great shock to many in Caracas but in some quarters there was fireworks and celebration.
Foreign Minster Elias Jose Jaua Milano declared seven days of mourning and said Mr. Chavez’s body would lie in state at the military academy in Caracas and will remain there until his funeral on Friday.
Chavez took office in Venezuela in 1999 after winning the 1998 election. In 202, he survived an abortive coup and was returned to power after two days. Chavez was reelected for another six-year term in October 2012. However President Chavez revealed he was being treated for cancer in 2011. In December 2012, he underwent his fourth cancer operation in Cuba and returned to Venezuela last month to continue treatment. He died on Tuesday after fourteen years in power.
Vice President Maduro will assume the presidency until an election is called within 30 days of Chavez’s death.