PRESIDENT OF VENEZUELA, Mr. Hugo Chavez is dead. He died Tuesday. He was 58. The President has had a running battle with cancer for more than two years. He will be succeeded by Vice President Nicolas Maduro, 50, a former bus driver.
Maduro has been holding forth since December 11, just about four days after Chaveznamed him as successor and has been up and doing providing regular updates on the president’s condition, calling for unity among allies and lambasting the opposition. Chavez had before his death told supporters to rally round Maduro if his illness prevented him from being sworn in on Jan. 10.
Maduro is expected to keep promoting programs such as free medical clinics staffed by Cuban doctors and subsidized food stores, which have endeared the President with the country’s vast numbers of poor. Maduro has vowed to block a return to past policies that he said had benefited the wealthy.
“Our people will never again see the bourgeoisie plundering this country,” Maduro said, adding, “Better to be dead than traitors to the people and to Chavez!”