Venezuelan Officials Call for Unity After Chavez Dies

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

He did not say what exactly killed Chavez, although the government had announced Monday night that a severe new respiratory infection had severely weakened him. Chavez had been undergoing cancer treatments.

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) -- Venezuela's vice president has been named interim president following the death of President Hugo Chavez.

The country's foreign minister says elections will be called within 30, and Vice President Nicolas Maduro will be the ruling party's candidate.

It was Maduro who told the country on national television that their 58-year-old leader had died. In tears and his voice breaking, Maduro said Chavez battled hard for nearly two years against "an illness." He did not say what exactly killed Chavez, although the government had announced Monday night that a severe new respiratory infection had severely weakened him. Chavez had been undergoing cancer treatments.

In announcing the death of the former army paratrooper, Maduro called on Venezuelans to avoid violence and be "dignified heirs of the giant man," who wielded Venezuela's oil wealth to benefit the poor and win friends regionally.

The government declared 7 days of mourning, and Venezuelans raced home after Tuesday's announcement and stocked up on food and water.


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