6 March 2013
Hugo Chavez, the President of Venezuela, died on Tuesday at the age of 58, his vice president announced. Vice President Nicolas Maduro announced Chavez’s death in a national television broadcast. He explained that Chavez died at 4:25 p.m. according to local time.
Venezuela has declared a week of mourning after the death of Hugo Chavez, with preparations under way for his body to lie in state. The 58-year-old president died last night after a two-year battle with cancer. He had suffered multiple complications following his latest operation in the 11th of December and had not been seen in public since then.
Chavez easily won a new six-year term at an election in October and his death shocked millions of supporters, who loved his charisma, anti-US diatribes and oil-financed projects to improve life for residents of long-neglected slums.
Reactions to his death have poured in from around the globe.
The White House issued a statement saying, "At this challenging time of President Hugo Chavez's passing, the United States reaffirms its support for the Venezuelan people and its interest in developing a constructive relationship with the Venezuelan government”.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon offered his deepest condolences to the families and people and the government of Venezuela and noted that Chavez’s contributions to the developments of his country. He will be issuing a formal statement later.
Iranian President Mahmud Ahmadinejad sent a message of condolence, says the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), citing a report from the Iranian Labour News Agency (ILNA).
“Hugo Chavez was the symbol and heir of all brave and the glorious as well as sad history of Latin American countries. He was the manifestation of the free spirit of the oppressed people of these nations and all oppressed nations around the world. He is the hoisted flag of all fighters against colonization and justice-seekers, and the pioneer of friendship amongst nations” the agency quoted Ahmadinejad's letter as saying.
Later today, his body will be transferred to a military academy where it will lie in state until his official funeral on Friday.
By Walid Belbachir