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Hugo Chavez, President of Venezuela, has died on Tuesday, March 5th after a nearly two year battle with cancer. Nicolas Maduro, Chavez’s vice-president, broke the news while looking emotionally distraught. Maduro explained that Chavez suffered from a severe respiratory infection that contributed to his sudden death. Chavez had not been seen in public since his cancer treatment in Cuba last month. He was 58 years old.
After being diagnosed, Chavez underwent two surgeries as well as chemotherapy before announcing last May that he was in remission. In December, he then said that he needed yet another surgery in Cuba. He also took the precaution to name Maduro as his preferred successor should he die. Naturally, the public saw little of Chavez in these last few months.
Unlike the United States, the vice-president does not ascend to the presidency to carry out the deceased president’s term. Instead, under the Venezuelan constitution, the head of Congress, in this case Diosado Cabello, becomes interim president. An election for a new president will be held at a later date.
The military has already stated that their loyalty is to the current government, including vice-president Maduro, and that the public need not worry, though military uprisings are not foreign to Venezuelan history. Chavez himself, a former paratrooper, once tried to organize a military coup against then-president Carlos Andres Perez and spent two years in jail as a result of his failure. Four years after his release, he won his first presidential term.
Of course, the conspiracy theories will soon begin to flow, as they would with any world leader who dies at such a young age. Maduro himself has stated with certainty that enemies of Venezuela had somehow caused Chavez to develop cancer. It is unlikely that foul play will ever be proven, but there is always the possibility of a CIA-like organization being involved. What do you think?