THE anti-imperialist President of Venezuela Hugo Chavez has died aged 58, after 14 years in power.
Chavez had been seriously ill with throat cancer for over a year, and had several operations in Cuba.
Foreign Minister Elias Jaua told state television: ‘We have a mandate that Comandante President Hugo Chavez gave us’. He added that Nicolas Maduro would be the Presidential candidate of the governing United Socialist Party (PSUV).
Tens of thousands of people gathered outside the Caracas hospital where he died, chanting, ‘We are all Chavez!’
A few hours before the announcement of the death of Chavez, Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro appeared on national TV and said that Chavez’s death was the outcome of an ‘enemy attack’.
Maduro announced that Chavez’s health had got a lot worse and that he was struggling to breathe after contracting a severe throat infection. He accused the country’s ‘enemies’ of causing the ailment.
Maduro attacked the imperialist powers, saying that Venezuela’s ‘historical enemies’ found a way to ‘damage the commander’s health’.
Maduro said a scientific commission would be formed and that it would reveal ‘Chavez was attacked with this disease,’ and that ‘the historic enemies of this nation looked for how to harm the health of our commander.’ He drew a parallel with the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, blamed on Israeli agents.
Maduro also announced the expulsion of a US Air Force attaché from the country. He said: ‘This officer has embarked on the task of looking for active members of the Venezuelan military, in the first place to find out more about the situation of our armed forces, and secondly, to invite them to participate in destabilising projects.’
Responding to the death of the Venezuelan president, Len McCluskey, Unite general secretary said: ‘The executive of Unite wishes to express their deep sadness on behalf of its 1.5 million members at the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. . . Under his leadership Venezuela has been transformed beyond recognition for the better. The control of the country’s huge natural resources has been placed back in the hands of the people and the wealth used to improve the lives of millions.’