Hugo Chavez dies at 58

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CARACAS (BDCi) — Hugo Chavez, the “21st century socialist”, died Tuesday at age 58 after a nearly two-year bout with cancer.

Vice President Nicolas Maduro, surrounded by other government officials, announced the death in a national television broadcast. He said Chavez died at 4:25 p.m. local time.

Chavez’s democratic ascent to the presidency in 1999 ushered in a new era in Venezuelan politics and its international relations.

As the most vocal U.S. adversary in the region, he influenced other leaders to take a similar stance.

But the last months of Chavez’ life were marked by an uncharacteristic silence as his health condition became “complicated,” in the words of his government. Chavez underwent a fourth surgery on December 11 in Cuba, and was not publicly seen again. A handful of pictures released in February were the last images the public had of their president.

Chavez’s ministers stubbornly maintained a hopeful message throughout the final weeks, even while admitting that the recently re-elected president was weakened while battling a respiratory infection.

 

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