Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has died at the age of 58 after losing his long battle with cancer. The country’s vice president Nicolas Maduro fought back tears as he announced the death in a national television broadcast.
Maduro said Mr. Chavez died at 4.25 pm local time after battling a tough illness for near two years and after being in power for 14 years.
He also added that the army and police had been deployed “to accompany and protect our people and guarantee the peace”, amid fears of unrest.
Hundreds of Venezuelans poured into the streets of capital Caracas, with many crying, hugging each other, or shouting slogans of support.
News of his death drew impassioned reactions from around the world, as leaders and other public figures weighed in on his legacy.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said, “President Chavez spoke to the challenges and aspirations of the most vulnerable Venezuelans. He provided decisive impetus for new regional integration movements, based on an eminently Latin American vision, while showing solidarity toward other nations in the hemisphere. His contribution to the current peace talks in Colombia between the Government of President Juan Manuel Santos and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) has been of vital importance.”
US president Barack Obama also reaffirmed Washington’s support for the Venezuelan people and its intest in developing a constructive relationship with the Venezuelan government.
Chavez, who had only been seen in rare photos over the past few months, was afflicted with an unspecified type of cancer in the pelvic area. His death comes after a two year battle with the disease.