Venezuelan Vice President Nicolas Maduro announced the news in a televised speech.
Chavez, a former army paratrooper who dreamed of spreading socialism across Latin America, was 58. His government was Cuba's most important economic and political ally. He was close friends with Fidel Castro. And when he needed help the most, he turned to Cuba, where doctors treated him for cancer.
Chavez was a combative and polarizing figure. His supporters said he defended the poor and disenfranchised in Venezuela. Critics accused him of running a secretive and corrupt government, and celebrated each time new rumors surfaced that Chavez was dead.
Washington will not miss Chavez. Raúl Castro will. The oil-rich Venezuelan government provided Cuba with subsidies worth billions of dollars per year.
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