[News] Hugo Chávez, president of Venezuela, dies in Caracas
news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Mar 5 17:30:51 EST 2013
*Hugo Chávez, president of Venezuela, dies in Caracas*
Death comes 21 months after it was revealed he had a tumour, and he will
be given a state funeral in the capital
Jonathan Watts <http://www.guardian.co.uk/profile/jonathanwatts>,
Latin America correspondent
* guardian.co.uk <http://www.guardian.co.uk/>, Tuesday 5 March 2013
Hugo Chávez at the closing rally of his 2012 election campaign. Despite
fears for his health, he won more votes than in any other election.
Photograph: Orinoquiaphoto/LatinContent/Getty Images
Hugo Chavéz, the president of Venezuela
<http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/venezuela>, has died in a military
hospital after a long battle against cancer, the vice-president has
announced, prompting a wave of mourning in the country he ruled since
1999 with a globally distinctive and influential style of leadership.
The symbol of Latin American socialism succumbed to a respiratory
infection on Tuesday evening, 21 months after he first revealed he had a
tumour. He had not been seen in public for three months since undergoing
emergency surgery in Cuba on 11 December.
He will be given a state funeral in Caracas, likely to be attended by
millions of supporters and leftwing leaders from across the globe who
have been inspired by Chavéz's doctrine of "Bolivarian 21st-century
socialism", grateful for the subsidised energy he provided or simply
impressed by his charisma.
His death will also trigger a presidential election, which must be held
within 30 days, to decide who controls the world's greatest untapped
reserves of oil. Chavéz's designated successor is the vice-president,
Nicolás Maduro, who is likely to face Henrique Capriles, the losing
opposition candidate in the most recent presidential election
Until then, according to the constitution, the interim president should
be the head of the national assembly, Diosdado Cabello.
Replacing one of most colourful figures on the global political
landscape will be an immense challenge. Born to a poor family on the
plains, Chavéz became a tank commander and a devotee of South America's
liberator, Simón Bolívar. A failed coup in 1992 propelled him into the
limelight but it was his ballot box triumphs that made him a inspiration
for the resurgent Latin American left and the most outspoken -- and
often humorous -- critic of the US, the war in Iraq and former president
George W Bush, whom he described as a "donkey" and a "devil".
Formerly one of the most dynamic political leaders in the world with a
globe-trotting schedule and a weekly, unscripted TV broadcast that
usually went on for hours, Chavéz shocked his countrymen in June 2011
when he revealed that Cuban surgeons had removed a baseball-sized tumour
from his pelvic region.
After that, he underwent several rounds of chemotherapy and two more
operations in what he described as a "battle for health and for life".
His medical records were never made public, prompting widespread
speculation about his imminent demise, but he and his supporters
insisted he was recovering. Before the presidential election in October
2012, aides claimed he was well enough to complete a full term of office.
During that campaign, Chávez was clearly affected by his illness. But
although he made fewer and shorter appearances, he won more votes than
in any of his earlier election battles, prompting him to proclaim
victory in a "perfect battle".
Fears about his health escalated after he rushed to Cuba for hyperbaric
oxygen treatment on 27 November. Less than a fortnight later, he made a
televised address in which he said that doctors had discovered malignant
cells that required surgery and urged Venezuelans to vote for Maduro if
he was incapacitated.
Since his operation in December, Chávez has been visited by family
members and several of his closest political allies, including Fidel and
Raul Castro of Cuba, Ecuadorean president Rafael Correa and Bolivian
president Evo Morales.
Beyond a set of four photographs released last month that showed a
remarkably hearty looking Chavez smiling in a hospital bed and flanked
by his daughters, the president has not been seen or heard for three
months. This prompted frequent rumours that the president was dead or on
life support. The government denied this and said he continued to run
the country by writing down his orders.
But officials acknowledged that Chavez suffered multiple complications
after his surgery including respiratory infections and bleeding. He had
to undergo more chemotherapy and drug treatments and could only breathe
through a tracheal tube.
He returned from Cuba on 18 February at his own request, said officials.
Since then he has been treated at Carlos Arvelo military hospital in
Hopes for a recovery dimmed on Monday, when minister of communications,
Ernesto Villegas, said the president's condition had declined due to a
"new and serious respiratory infection."
Constitutional questions have been raised by his long hospitalisation
and absence from public life, which he formerly dominated with dynamic
and provocative appearances on his weekly television address, "Hello Mr
President." When he failed to attend his scheduled inauguration on 10
January, the opposition asked who is running the country. The ruling
party responded with a rally of more than 100,000 supporters, many
carrying banners declaring "We are Chavez."
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