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Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez Dead

Hugo Chavez
Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

The longtime president of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, died on Tuesday at the age of 58, following a two-year battle with cancer.

During Chavez’s 14 years in office, the firebrand politician often clashed with other world leaders—particularly George W. Bush, whom he referred to as the devil during a 2006 speech at the United Nations. He was revered as a hero by his supporters, but called an authoritarian who abused his office by those who opposed him.

Chavez used his country’s booming oil wealth to increase his own political power, but the socialist also brought medical clinics and subsidized food to many of the poorer regions of his country.

Chavez was quite popular among the poor in Venezuela, winning a third term this past October, though his critics—both at home and abroad—accused him of behaving more like a dictator who intimidated and repressed his political opponents than a democratically elected leader.

Vice President Nicholas Maduro made the announcement of Chavez’s death today. Maduro will run in an upcoming special election to fill the vacancy against Henrique Capriles, whom Chavez defeated in October.

[Reuters]

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