March 5 - Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez died after several year battle with cancer, ending the socialist leader's 14-year rule of the South American country, Vice President Nicolas Maduro said in a televised speech. Rough Cut (no reporter narration)
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ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION)
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has died after a two-year battle with cancer, ending the socialist leader's 14-year rule of the South American country, Vice President Nicolas Maduro said in a televised speech.
The flamboyant 58-year-old leader had undergone four operations in Cuba for a cancer that was first detected in his pelvic region in mid-2011. His last surgery was on Dec. 11 and he had not been seen in public since.
"It's a moment of deep pain," Maduro, accompanied by senior ministers, said, his voice choking.
"We were receiving information and we were accompanied his daughters, his brother, his family members and we received the hardest and the most tragic of news that we will ever transmit to our people. At 4:25 in the afternoon today, the 5th of March, Comandante President Hugo Chavez Frias died."
Chavez easily won a new 6-year term at an election in October and his death will devastate millions of supporters who adored his charismatic style, anti-U.S. rhetoric and oil-financed policies that brought subsidized food and free health clinics to long-neglected slums.
Detractors, however, saw his one-man style, gleeful nationalizations and often harsh treatment of opponents as evidence of an egotistical dictator whose misplaced statist economics wasted a historic bonanza of oil revenues.
Chavez's death paves the way for a new election that will test whether his socialist "revolution" can live on without his dominant personality at the helm.
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