A fiery leftist, Hugo Chavez was a steadfast ally of dictators like Cuba's Fidel Castro while loudly opposing the United States. He claimed capitalism was destroying the world and tried to transform Venezuela into a socialist state. Millions of Venezuelans loved him because he showered the poor with social programs.
Venezuela's President Hugo Chávez, has died, Vice President Nicolás Maduro announced in a televised statement.
Chávez died at a military hospital in Caracas at 4:25 p.m. Tuesday. He was 58.
In power since 1999, the former military commander became an icon of socialist policies in Latin America. With his country's oil wealth as backup, he launched fierce and unyielding criticism of the United States and its allies.
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who has been battling cancer for months, is in a "very delicate" condition, with breathing difficulties and a severe respiratory infection, a government statement says.
The statement, read out Monday by Minister of Communications Ernesto Villegas, spells out the 58-year-old socialist leader's decline since his December surgery in Cuba for an unspecified cancer in the pelvic area:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. Coming up, a story of survival at sea. Steven Callahan was sailing across the Atlantic alone when nature intervened.
STEVEN CALLAHAN: Suddenly, there was a big crash on the side of the boat and a lot of water came flooding in. So, part of me was frightened and saying you're going to die, you're going to die, you're going right down with the boat, and part of me was saying shut up, do your job.
The Venezuelan government released an update on ailing President Hugo Chávez late Thursday.
"The respiratory deficiency that arose in the course of the postoperative period persists, and its tendency has not been favorable, for which reason he continues to be treated," the information minister, Ernesto Villegas, said according to The New York Times.