Hugo Chavez, fiery Venezuelan leader, dies at 58

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Associated Press

Posted on March 5, 2013 at 4:04 PM

Updated Tuesday, Mar 5 at 4:30 PM

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — He saw himself as a revolutionary and savior of the poor. But the legacy of Hugo Chavez (OO'-goh CHAH'-vez) will be much more complex.

His death was announced to Venezuelans on national television this afternoon. Chavez lost a two-year battle with cancer, the only adversary he couldn't beat. He continually battled detractors and outsmarted rivals, defeating a coup attempt and winning re-election three times.

Chavez used Venezuela's vast oil income to fund social programs including food markets, free clinics, new public housing and education. That made him extremely popular with the poor. Official statistics showed poverty rates declined from 50 percent at the beginning of Chavez's first term in 1999 to 32 percent in the second half of 2011.

Chavez used his booming voice and folksy style to electrify crowds. But his 14 years in office were marked by polarized struggles and sharp criticism of the U.S. In a 2006 speech to the U.N. General Assembly, he called President George W. Bush the devil, saying the podium reeked of sulfur after Bush's address.

Hugo Chavez was 58.

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250-r-11-(Sound of Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro, reading statement announcing the death of President Hugo Chavez)--Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro says the nation accompanies President Hugo Chavez to his final resting place in peace, as one family. (5 Mar 2013)

<<CUT *250 (03/05/13)>> 00:11

252-r-14-(Sound of Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro, reading statement announcing the death of President Hugo Chavez)--Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro says the nation needs to be strong through this pain and difficult time and needds to unite more than ever. (5 Mar 2013)

<<CUT *252 (03/05/13)>> 00:14

267-a-14-(George Ciccariello-Maher (CHICK'-ah-rehl-loh-Mahr), Venezuelan expert and political science professor at Drexel University, in AP interview)-"across Venezuelan society"-Professor George Ciccariello-Maher says changes in Venezuela were not all caused by Hugo Chavez. (5 Mar 2013)

<<CUT *267 (03/05/13)>> 00:14 "across Venezuelan society"

264-a-08-(George Ciccariello-Maher (CHICK'-ah-rehl-loh-Mahr), Venezuelan expert and political science professor at Drexel University, in AP interview)-"become profoundly un-Democratic"-Professor George Ciccariello-Maher says Hugo Chevez did a lot to change Venezuela for the better. (5 Mar 2013)

<<CUT *264 (03/05/13)>> 00:08 "become profoundly un-Democratic"

251-r-11-(Sound of Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro, reading statement announcing the death of President Hugo Chavez)--Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro says the nation is left free and independent by the supreme leader, the force of the revolution, President Hugo Chavez. (5 Mar 2013)

<<CUT *251 (03/05/13)>> 00:11

247-a-12-(Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez (OO'-goh CHAH'-vez), addressing U.N. General Assembly through interpreter on September 20, 2006)-"sulfur still today"-Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, addressing the U.N. General Assembly through an interpreter on September 20, 2006, calls President George W. Bush "the devil." (5 Mar 2013)

<<CUT *247 (03/05/13)>> 00:12 "sulfur still today"

APPHOTO CHA105: FILE - In this Nov. 19, 2005 file photo, Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez wears a Mexican sombrero as he sings a Mexican ranchera song at a rally in Caracas, Venezuela. Venezuela's Vice President Nicolas Maduro announced on Tuesday, March 5, 2013 that President Hugo Chavez has died at age 58 after a nearly two-year bout with cancer. During more than 14 years in office, Chavez routinely challenged the status quo at home and internationally. He polarized Venezuelans with his confrontational and domineering style, yet was also a masterful communicator and strategist who tapped into Venezuelan nationalism to win broad support, particularly among the poor. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano, File) (26 Jun 2011)

<<APPHOTO CHA105 (06/26/11)>>

APPHOTO CHA148: In this undated photo released by Miraflores Press Office, Hugo Chavez is seen in a family photo in Barinas, Venezuela. Venezuela's Vice President Nicolas Maduro announced on Tuesday, March 5, 2013 that President Hugo Chavez has died at age 58 after a nearly two-year bout with cancer. During more than 14 years in office, Chavez routinely challenged the status quo at home and internationally. He polarized Venezuelans with his confrontational and domineering style, yet was also a masterful communicator and strategist who tapped into Venezuelan nationalism to win broad support, particularly among the poor. (AP Photo/Miraflores Press Office) (28 Feb 2013)

<<APPHOTO CHA148 (02/28/13)>>

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