Venezuela's Hugo Chavez dies from cancer - Vice President
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 December 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.
Chavez easily won a new six-year term at an election in October and his death will devastate millions of supporters who adored his charismatic style, anti-US rhetoric and oil-financed policies that brought subsidised 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.
Chavez, courted controversy throughout his 14 years in power.
Here are some of his best-known quotes:
After a failed coup as an army officer, 1992
“For now, lamentably, the objectives we sought were not achieved. ... New situations will come and the country must definitively get on the path to a better destiny.”
“I’m not the devil.”
“Cuba is a dictatorship.”
Nationalisation plans? “No, absolutely nothing.”
Hand over power in five years? “Of course, I am willing to give up power even earlier.”
Taking office, 1999
“I swear in front of my people, that over this moribund constitution, I will push forward the democratic transformations that are necessary.”
To his wife on Valentines Day, 2000
“Marisabel, I’m giving you one tonight, get ready!”
“I am a president held prisoner, I have not resigned.”
On indigenous rights, 2003
“Christopher Columbus (the Italian-born explorer) was the spearhead of the biggest invasion and genocide ever seen in the history of humanity.”
On presidential summits, 2005
“We go from summit to summit, while our people go from abyss to abyss.”
On former US president George W. Bush at the UN, 2006
“Yesterday the devil came here. Right here. And it smells of sulfur still today.”
More on Bush, 2006
“You are an alcoholic, a drunk, a liar, an immoral person, Mr. Danger. You are the worst ... a psychologically sick man.”
“The lord of war is Donald Rumsfeld, one of the dogs of the devil.”
On Israel, during a visit to Iran, 2006
“Israel criticizes Hitler a lot, so do we, but they’ve done something very similar, even worse, than what the Nazis did.”
On then-British prime minister Tony Blair, 2006
“You are an imperialist pawn. ... Go straight to hell.”
On the failure of constitutional amendment, 2007
“Theirs is a victory of shit.”
To Fidel Castro, trip to Cuba, 2007
“You are the father of the revolutions on this continent, you are our father.”
Launching a move to repeal term limits, 2008
“If God gives me life and health, I’ll be with you until 2021! Hey ho, Chavez will not go!”
“I want to be your friend.”
On former Ugandan dictator Idi Amin, 2009
“We thought he was a cannibal ... I have doubts ... Maybe he was a great nationalist, a patriot.”
On US president Barack Obama, 2011
“You are a fraud, Obama. ... Go and ask many people in Africa, who might have believed in you because of the color of your skin, because your father was from Africa. You are an Afro-descendant, but you are the shame of all those people.”
On Carlos the Jackal, 2011
“He was a worthy promoter of the greatest struggles ... a revolutionary fighter.”
On capitalism's role in lack of life on Mars, 2011
“I have always said, heard, that it would not be strange that there had been civilization on Mars, but maybe capitalism arrived there, imperialism arrived and finished off the planet.
Accusing the CIA of spreading cancer in Latin America, 2011
“It would not be strange if they had developed the technology to induce cancer and nobody knew about it until now.”
“Bombing the brave Libyan people to save them? What a brilliant strategy by the mad empire. Where are the international rights? This is like the caveman era.”
Before one of the World's longest speeches, 9 1/2 hours, 2012
“I promise you that at least I will make an effort not to be so lengthy.”
Putting down an opposition leader in same speech, 2012
“The eagle does not hunt the fly.”
On the 2012 presidential election
“It will be easier for a donkey to pass through the eye of a needle than for the opposition to win the elections.”
Weeping at Easter mass, 2012.
“Give me your crown, Jesus. Give me your cross, your thorns so that I may bleed. But give me life, because I have more to do for this country and these people. Do not take me yet.”
Fighting cancer, 2012
“These are not easy days, but we are warriors against adversity. ... I can’t continue being the same runaway horse.”