Hugo Chavez, the firebrand President of Venezuela, has died at the age of 58.
Unlike last week’s erroneous reports of his demise, this time it’s the real deal.
Vice President Nicolas Maduro, who reported that Chavez was battling for life earlier this week, confirmed that he lost the battle about 45 minutes ago.
Maduro said that Hugo Chavez died at 4:25 p.m. Tuesday.
“We must unite now more than ever,” said Maduro, fighting back tears and flanked by cabinet ministers, calling on Venezuelans to remain “peaceful and respectful.”
Maduro said plans for Chavez’s state funeral are still TBA.
He also did not specify if/when elections would be held.
“Our people can count on having a government of men and women committed to protecting them,” Maduro told the South American nation, according to CNN.
The announcement came hours after Maduro met with the country’s top political and military leaders about Chavez’s worsening health condition.
Chavez had been in Cuba for months seeking medical treatment.
Maduro suggested someone may have deliberately infected Chavez with cancer; unlikely as that seems, the politician had been in bad shape for some time.
Although not regarded as a national security threat quite on par with other notable global despots, the socialist Chavez was an outspoken critic of the U.S.
That’s as mildly as we can put it. Guy was not an America fan.
Whatever you might think of Chavez and his legacy, here’s hoping that his passing ushers in a new era of improved relations between the two countries.