Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez dead

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Venezuela’s vice-president Nicolas Maduro has announced the death of the country’s president Hugo Chavez.

According to the announcement on Tuesday evening, Mr Chavez who was 58 died after contracting a severe respiratory infection.

His voice shaking with emotion, Mr Maduro said: “It’s a moment of deep pain,”

His presidency in 1999 ushered in a new era in Venezuelan politics and its international relations.  A thorn in the flesh of the USA, Chavez was uncompromising in his dealings with the superpower.

Chavez launched his plan to remake Venezuela, a major oil producer, into a socialist state in the so-called Bolivarian Revolution.  He redirected much of the country’s vast oil wealth, which increased dramatically during his tenure, to massive social programs for the country’s poor.