Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Dead at 58
"We must unite now more than ever," Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro said in a statement to the country. "Our people can count on having a government of men and women committed to protecting them."
Chavez received his first surgery and chemotherapy treatment in 2011 in Cuba, where he recently returned for continued treatment. Maduro recently met with Venezuela's top leaders to discuss Chavez's worsening health and reportedly suggested that someone may have infected Chavez with cancer on purpose, according to CNN.
Chavez, who tried unsuccessfully to overthrow Venezuela's elite in a coup in 1992, was elected democratically in 1999. Although he was a polarizing leader who befriended some of the world's dictators, he remained popular in his country as a champion of the poor. He held onto power thanks to a series of populist elections and referenda, which allowed him to seek a limitless number of terms in office, according to ABC News.
Always outspoken, Chavez criticized oil companies and the Catholic Church. He also often criticized the United States' treatment of Latin America and at different times called President George W. Bush a "liar," a "murderer" and, during a 2006 speech before the UN General Assembly, "the devil."
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