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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California

Venezuelan Leader Hugo Chavez Dies

Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's president for the past 14 years, died Tuesday at age 58 after battling cancer.

Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's well-known populist leader who led a socialist revolution during his presidency, died Tuesday at the age of 58, Vice President Nicolas Maduro said in a national broadcast.

Chavez recently suffered from a severe respiratory infection and publicly battled cancer since June 2011.

Information Minister Ernesto Villegas said Chavez was in a very delicate state in the hours leading up to his death.

Chavez will be remembered for his confrontational and domineering style throughout his 14 years in office.

Before he was diagnosed with cancer, he appeared on TV almost everyday, talking for hours at a time.

While undergoing treatment, President Chavez stayed in touch with the Venezuelan public through his personal Twitter account and through phone calls that were broadcast on television.

Chavez was born in 1954 in Sabenta, Venezuela. In the 1980s he helped found the Revolutionary Bolivarian Movement, an underground socialst organization.

In 1992 his group led a failed coup that resulted in the death of 18 people and left Chavez in jail.

After being released from prison, he rebranded his movement into a populist party called Movement of the Fifth Republic, and promised to rid the country of corruption.

Chavez became an icon, and pledged to help the poor through the country's ample oil sales and had plans to improve education and health care.

He was inspired by Cuban leader Fidel Castro and assumed the role of Washington's chief antagonist in the Western Hemisphere after Castro left office.

Chavez famously ridiculed former U.S. President George W. Bush, calling him a "liar," "coward," "murderer" and "donkey."

Although his administration was constantly criticized for human rights abuses and other corruptions, he served more than 14 years in office, and was reelected last year despite his ailing health.

Three days before his final surgery, Chavez named Vice President Maduro as his successor.

It will now be up to the Venezuelan people to decide whether or not the Chavismo movement will survive now that it has lost its famed leader.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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