Written by PATRICK MWANZA
ATLANTA—Pres. Hugo Chavez, a fierce adversary of the United States, has died.
A teary-eyed vice president, Nicolas Maduro, announced the death of the Venezuelan leader in a national broadcast on television, saying Chavez passed away at 4:25 p.m. local time Tuesday.
Chavez, who was reelected in January, died at the ege of 58 following a battle with cancer for more than a year. After coming to power in 1998, he led the revival of leftist politics in Latin America.
The country Chavez led, Venezuela, has the largest oil reserves in the world alongside Saudi Arabia. Despite heated rhetoric against the U.S., Chavez maintained oil exports to world’s super power whose companies, about 500 of them, operate in Venezuela.
Accused by foes of wrecking the economy, Chavez used the country’s wealth from oil to provide free health care, housing, education and food which made him popular especially among the poor.
The United States was measured in its reaction to the death of Chavez.
“At this challenging time of President Hugo Chavez’s passing, the United States reaffirms its support for the Venezuelan people and its interest in developing a constructive relationship with the Venezuelan government,” Pres. Barack Obama said in a short statement. “As Venezuela begins a new chapter in its history, the United States remains committed to policies that promote democratic principles, the rule of law, and respect for human rights.”
Meanwhile, Venezuela has declared seven days of national mourning and Chavez's funeral will be held on Friday. The country is expected to hold an election for a new leader in 30 days.
© The Maravi Post 2013