Hugo Chavez's Death Leaves Venezuela with an Uncertain Future
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, 58, died Tuesday afternoon after a long battle with cancer. The nation is now divided in political turmoil with no singularly visible leader.
Vice President Nicola Maduro said he "choked up" when receiving, "the hardest and most tragic information that we could transmit to our people"
After news erupted in Caracas, the capital's streets were flooded with people calling family and friends on cellphones hurrying home to find out more information. Stores and shopping malls immediately closed after the announcement.
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That night crowds gathered in the city square and at the military hospital to mourn the death of their former leader. Fear of the future and what may happen as a result filled the hearts of many.
"He's the best president in history," said Andrés Mejía, 65, a retiree in Cumaná. "Look at how emotional I am - I'm crying. I cannot accept the president's death. But the revolution will continue with Maduro."
Chavez died at the beginning of his term. The Venezuelan Constitution states the country should "proceed to a new election" within 30 days. Vice President Maduro will take over as temporary president until the election, according to a TV interview with Foreign Minister Elias Jaua.
The election is likely to feature Chavez' self-proclaimed successor Maduro and young governor Henrique Capriles Radonski as candidates. Radonski ran unsuccessfully against Chavez during the presidential election last October.
"We, your civilian and military companions, Commander Hugo Chávez, assume your legacy, your challenges, your project, accompanied by and with the support of the people," Vice President Maduro reassured his homeland Tuesday.
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