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委内瑞拉总统查韦斯病逝

2013-03-17 13:10

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has died after a long struggle with cancer. He was 58 years old.

Vice President Nicolas Maduro announced the death on national television Tuesday. He urged the Venezuelan people to show strength and courage, and to be united and fulfill the expectations of the man he called "this great leader."

Foreign Minister Elias Jaua has declared seven days of national mourning. He says says Mr. Chavez will lie in state at a military academy before a funeral Friday.

President Chavez had been treated in Cuba for cancer before returning to Caracas last month. Officials say he came down with a severe infection after strong chemotherapy in a Caracas military hospital.

Mr. Chavez had cancer in his pelvis. He had not been seen in public since December and missed his inauguration for another term in January.

Vice President Maduro accused Venezuela's enemies of attacking the president with cancer. He did not say how that could have been done.

Mr. Chavez, the son of school teachers, dreamed of becoming a major league baseball player in the U.S. but he opted for a career as an army paratrooper.

He was jailed in 1992 for leading an unsuccessful coup against then-president Carlos Andres Perez and was elected to the office himself in 1998, promising to wipe out poverty and end corruption.

Mr. Chavez earned the enmity of the United States and much of the rest of Latin America for his socialist policies, nationalizing major companies, and courting such world leaders as Cuba's Fidel Castro, Iran's Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Libya's Moammar Gadhafi.

The opposition accused him of becoming a dictator. Millions of poor Venezuelans revered him for using the country's vast oil wealth to give them access to low-cost food, free medical care and other social programs.

Also Tuesday, Venezuela expelled two U.S. diplomats, accusing them of meeting with military officers and plotting to destabilize the government.

The two diplomats are air attaches -- U.S. Air Force officers who are stationed in the embassy.

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