Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has died after a two-year battle with cancer, Vice President Nicolas Maduro has announced.
Maduro, flanked by political and military leaders, made the announcement on Tuesday evening on national television.
“We have just received the most tragic and awful information. At 4:25 p.m. (2055 GMT) today March the 5th, President Hugo Chavez died,” a tearful Maduro said, directly from a Caracas military hospital.
“Long live Chavez,” the officials surrounding Maduro chanted.
“It’s a moment of deep pain,” he said in the address.
Hours before Chavez’s death, the Venezuelan vice president stated that someday there will be “scientific proof” that the socialist leader was infected with cancer by “imperialist” enemies.
“We have no doubt that commander Chavez was attacked with this illness,” Maduro said.
“The old enemies of our fatherland looked for a way to harm his health,” he noted.
On February 18, the 58-year-old Venezuelan leader returned to Caracas from Cuba, where he had cancer surgery.
Chavez traveled to Havana on December 10 for a fourth operation after his cancer reappeared, despite a year and a half of treatment.
In late March 2012, Chavez began radiation treatment in Cuba after an operation in February 2012 that removed a second cancerous tumor from his pelvic region. Chavez’s first tumor, which was baseball-sized, was removed in June 2011, and then he received chemotherapy.
Chavez was born in a poor family on July 28, 1954 in Sabaneta, Barinas state, Venezuela.
He graduated from the Venezuelan Academy of Military Sciences in 1975.
Chavez became involved in revolutionary movements within the armed forces in 1977.
In 1992, he led a failed attempt to overthrow the government of President Carlos Andres Perez and was jailed for two years. Despite that fact that the coup failed, the incident launched his political career.
Chavez toured the country, electrified Venezuelans with his speeches, and won his first presidential election in 1998. He also won presidential elections in 2000, 2006, and 2012.
In 2002, a group of opposition politicians and troops backed by the United States staged a coup against Chavez. He was arrested and sent to a military base on a Caribbean island.
However, just two days later, the efforts of loyal military officers and massive demonstrations by Venezuelans swept him back to power.
Chavez founded the Bolivarian Revolution to establish popular democracy and economic independence and equitably distribute wealth in Latin America.
He was one of the key players in the progressive movement that has swept across Latin America over the past few years.
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