BREAKING NEWS: Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez dies after developing 'severe infection' during battle with cancer
Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez has died in hospital at the age of 58 after developing a severe respiratory infection during his battle with cancer.
The country's vice president Nicolas Maduro, surrounded by other government officials, made the announcement during a national television broadcast tonight.
He said that the long-standing president died at 4:25pm local time.
A government spokesman had earlier said that the far-left leader, who has held control in the country for 14 years, was in a 'very delicate' condition in hospital.
Details of Chavez's health, who championed a leftist revival across Latin America, have been cloaked in mystery since he was first diagnosed with the disease in June 2011.
Communications Minister Ernesto Villegas earlier appeared on national television last night to announce that the president was suffering from 'a new, severe infection'.
Chavez, 58, had been undergoing 'chemotherapy of strong impact,' Villegas added.
The president has neither been seen nor heard from, except for a couple of hospital bed photos, since submitting to a fourth round of surgery in Cuba in December for an unspecified cancer in the pelvic area.
The government said he returned home on February 18 and had been confined to Caracas' military hospital since.
Villegas said that Chavez was 'standing by Christ and life conscious of the difficulties he faces'.
He also took the opportunity to lash out at 'the corrupt Venezuelan right' for what he called a psychological war seeking 'scenarios of violence as a pretext for foreign intervention.'
He called on Chavez's supporters, who include thousands of well-armed militiamen, to be 'on a war footing'.
The president's death is expected to trigger a snap election, though the opposition has argued that it should have been held after Chavez was unable to be sworn in on January 10.
The campaigning has already unofficially begun, with vice president Maduro, who Chavez has said should succeed him, frequently commandeering all broadcast channels to promote the 'revolution' and vilify the opposition.
Chavez has run Venezuela for more than 14 years as a virtual one-man show, gradually placing all state institutions under his personal control. But the former army paratroop officer who rose to fame with a failed 1992 coup, never groomed a successor with his force of personality.
Chavez was last re-elected in October, and his challenger Henrique Capriles, the youthful governor of Miranda state, is expected to be the opposition's candidate again.
One of Chavez's three daughters, Maria Gabriela, earlier expressed thanks to well-wishers via her Twitter account. 'We will prevail!' she wrote, echoing a favorite phrase of her father. 'With God always.'
There had been speculation that Chavez's cancer has spread to his lungs.
Maduro said last week that the president had begun receiving chemotherapy around the end of January.
Doctors have said that such therapy was not necessarily to try to beat Chavez's cancer into remission but could have been palliative, to extend Chavez's life and ease his suffering.
While in Cuba, Chavez suffered a severe respiratory infection that nearly killed him. A tracheal tube was inserted then and government officials said his breathing remained laboured.
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Hugo Chavez Dead. Good Riddance, Asswipe.
Daily Mail, Chavez developed an infection that did him in. Hmmm....he got an infection? So Hugo, if you can hear me down there...how do you feel about the sanitary standards of that government run healthcare over there in Cuba now?