BREAKING: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Dead at 58

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According to Vice President Nicolás Manduro, Socialist Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has died. The controversial President of the South American country since 1999, was 58 years old.

Yesterday, Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said, “There is a worsening of the respiratory function, related to the state of his depressed immune system.” The government has never specified what type of cancer Chavez was suffering from since 2011.

A self-described champion of the poor who first tried to overturn Venezuela’s powerful elites in a failed 1992 coup, Chavez was democratically elected in 1999, with huge support from the country’s poor.

During his time in office, he became one of Latin America’s most well-known and polarizing figures. A constant thorn in the side of the United States, he commanded headlines in newspapers around the world. A populist who suppressed free speech, he remained immensely popular among his country’s poor.

(Via ABC News)

UPDATE:

It was announced on December 9, 2012 that Venezuelan officials noted for the first time that Vice President Maduro would take his place following a successful election. Chavez won a six-year term on October 7, 2012.

Also, this makes it even more blatantly obvious how controlled the media has been in Venezuela. As of July 9, 2012, Venezuelan media outlets were reporting that Chavez was “totally free” of cancer. Looks like that wasn’t even remotely close to the truth in retrospect, ey?

UPDATE 2:

If you are looking for the status on the latest US-Venezuela relations, recall that in December, President Obama told Univision that, “The most important thing is to remember that the future of Venezuela should be in the hands of the Venezuelan people. We’ve seen from Chavez in the past authoritarian policies, suppression of dissent.”

Needless to say, that was not taken well. The Venezuelan government responded by saying, “With these despicable comments at such a delicate moment for Venezuela, the U.S. president is responsible for a major deterioration in bilateral relations, proving the continuity of his policy of aggression and disrespect towards our country.”

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