As it happened: Venezuela President Hugo Chavez dies

Key Points

  • Venezuela's President, Hugo Chavez, has died aged 58 after battling cancer for nearly two years
  • The news came in an official announcement on state television by Vice-President Nicolas Maduro
  • Mr Maduro will assume the presidency until an election is held within the next 30 days
  • Seven days of mourning have been declared and Mr Chavez's funeral will take place on Friday
  • A number of Latin American leaders have expressed great sadness for his passing
  • Military vows to protect Venezuela's sovereignty, integrity and security (All times in GMT)

    It has been announced that the President of Venezuela, Hugo Chavez, has died. The news came in an official announcement by Vice-President Nicolas Maduro.


    Mr Chavez had been seriously ill with cancer for two years, undergoing several operations in Cuba, and had not been seen in public since he returned to Caracas last month.


    Mr Maduro said Mr Chavez died at 16:25 local time (20:55 GMT) at the military hospital in Caracas.


    The vice-president described it as "the hardest and most tragic news".


    "It's a moment of deep pain," Mr Maduro added, his voice choking.


    Hours earlier, the vice-president went on state television to warn that Mr Chavez's health was failing, saying he was entering his "most difficult hours".


    It followed Monday's announcement by Information Minister Ernesto Villegas that Mr Chavez was suffering from a "new, severe" respiratory infection.


    Mr Maduro also spoke earlier of a plot against Venezuela and said a US military attache had been expelled. The foreign minister later added that a second American had also been told to leave the country. Mr Maduro said a scientific commission could one day investigate whether Mr Chavez's illness was brought about by an "enemy attack".


    Crowds have meanwhile been gathering outside the military hospital in the capital where President Chavez was being treated to pray for him.


    A special deployment of the armed forces across the country has been announced by Vice-President Maduro, according to Union Radio Noticias, a commercial news network.

    Dominic James Brown

    tweets: Chavez did things I didn't agree with but gave hope to millions who had nothing. Nobody cared about the people in the slums until he arrived

    Haiti's President Michel J Martelly

    tweets: I extend, on behalf of the people of Haiti, my sincere condolences to the people after the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. (translated)


    Here is the full statement made by Vice-President Maduro announcing the death of Hugo Chavez: "Today, the 5th of March, after participating in the meeting of the council of ministers, we came here to the military hospital to follow the sequence of our comandante president's health. We were receiving information and we were accompanying his daughters, his brother, his family members and we received the hardest and the most tragic of news that we will ever transmit to our people. At 4:25 in the afternoon, today, the 5th of March, Comandante President Hugo Chavez Frias died."

    Vice-President Nicolas Maduro addresses the nation (5 March 2013)

    News of Hugo Chavez's death is making headlines around Latin America. The website of Mexico's El Universal newspaper reads: "Hugo Chavez dies, defeated by cancer".


    More on news of the military deployment across Venezuela. Vice-President Maduro said in his TV broadcast that "at this very moment" a deployment of the army and police was being rolled out "to accompany and protect our people and guarantee the peace".


    Venezuela's Minister of Defence, Adm Diego Alfredo Molero Bellavia, has just given a news conference. He said: "You can count on us, the men and women of the country's armed forces, who will together ensure that the constitution is upheld. We join the nation in their sorrow, and once more call for unity and peace between all parties. We all, from this moment, will have a mission to comply with and will ensure that for the sake of the nation that it is complied with. Long live Chavez. Long live the revolution."

    Adm Diego Alfredo Molero Bellavia addresses the nation (5 March 2013)

    In Argentina, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner - a close friend of Mr Chavez - suspends all activities after the news of his death.


    tweets: Haiti has lost one of its most loyal and generous friends. A champion for the poor, a leader of social & economic justice. RIP Pres. Chavez

    Andrew Porter from London

    emails: My Venezuelan girlfriend and every Venezuelan I've ever met will be happy and celebrating, I on the other hand am still unsure, hear mostly good things about Chavez through the international press but only bad stories from the Venezuelan people.

    Sarah Grainger former BBC Caracas correspondent

    tweets: With recent currency devaluation, food shortages etc taking on the #Chavez mantle in #Venezuela without his personality will not be easy.


    Hugo Chavez, a former paratrooper turned socialist firebrand, shot to prominence in 1992 with a failed coup, subsequently spending two years in prison. He gained power legitimately in 1999, winning three more presidential terms, most recently in October. He quickly implemented his revolutionary socialist ideals by setting up grassroots community councils, health and education programmes, funded by Venezuela's oil wealth. Lauded by the poor, many middle-class Venezuelans distrusted his reforms and his bruising flamboyant style, characterised by his populist weekly TV show. Mr Chavez vilified the United States and built strong links with Russia, China, and Iran. You can read more about his life in the BBC's News website's obituary.

    Peru's President Ollanta Humala

    tweets: Adios Commander and friend Hugo Chavez. My condolences to his family and to the entire Venezuelan people.

    Caracas Chronicles

    tweets: Hugo Chavez, who transformed Venezuela from a deeply flawed democracy into a nearly flawless autocracy, is dead at 58.


    Here is a picture of supporters of Hugo Chavez in Caracas reacting after learning of his death.

    Supporters of Hugo Chavez in Caracas (5 March 2013)

    Union Radio Noticias is reporting that Bolivian President Evo Morales will arrive in Caracas tonight to pay his respects to Mr Chavez.


    Under the constitution, the President of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello Rondon, will assume the interim presidency before an election is held. Mr Chavez had named Vice-President Maduro as his political heir.

    US chat show host Larry King

    tweets: I interviewed Hugo Chavez a few years ago in New York. I remember he walked into the interview singing

    Conservative Latina

    tweets: I can forgive what #Chavez did to my fam & friends in Venz but I can also hope that they find the freedom they didn't have under his rule


    Under the headline, "President Chavez dies", Venezuela's El Universal newspaper is carrying a special report saying he has gone down in history. The Spanish new agency, Efe, meanwhile says that with Mr Chavez's death Latin America has lost its main leader and the Left is orphaned.


    tweets: Quite a life, #Hugo Chavez. We'll miss you. The struggle for the recovery of our collective sovereignty continues! Hasta la victoria siempre


    Reaction in Caracas to Mr Chavez's death has been mixed, reports the BBC's Irene Caselli. Fireworks have been let off in celebration in an anti-Chavez part of the city, she says, but many of the president's supporters have been crying and praying at the hospital where we was being treated.


    Brazil's President, Dilma Rousseff, says she is mourning the loss of a great "friend" of her country.


    The death of Hugo Chavez could alter the political balance in Latin America, analysts have told BBC Brasil. "The death of Chavez does not mean a disaster for the Left, but should favour more centrist countries," says Nicholas Watson of Control Risks. There could also be an economic impact given that Venezuela sells oil at below market prices to some neighbouring countries, especially in the Caribbean. "Perhaps the market prices will be maintained by the new government, but without Chavez, there should be more discussion in Venezuela," Mr Watson adds.


    In Peru, Congress held a minute of silence in his honour. The governments of Chile and Ecuador also released official notes of condolences to Venezuela. Ecuador said it felt the loss as their own, and hoped that its neighbours could carry on Mr Chavez's revolution.


    Former BBC Caracas correspondent Sarah Grainger looks at his legacy here. She writes: "The policies of President Hugo Chavez changed the lives of arguably every Venezuelan. Some for the better, others for the worse."

    Alejandro Martinez from Yucatan, Mexico

    emails: As a Venezuela raised in the US, my comments may be tainted by my experiences there. Chavez was most certainly a character and divided politics in a way that prevented the country from moving forward. Not to celebrate the death of anybody, but I hope Venezuela can move on from this regime towards a brighter, truly democratic future. This is a country rich in resources and there are no reasons for it to be held back.

    Bruce Dackler in Cyprus

    emails: I was lucky enough to briefly meet Chavez. Whilst exchanging greetings my mobile telephone rang and he gestured for me to hand it to him, he answered the call. He gave a hearty laugh and a shrug then handed the phone back.


    Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles, who lost last October's presidential election to Hugo Chavez, writes on Twitter: "At such a difficult time, we must show our deep love and respect to our Venezuela... My solidarity to all the family and followers of President Hugo Chavez. We appeal for unity among Venezuelans at this time."


    UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expresses his "deepest condolences to the families and people and the government of Venezuela".


    After announcing Hugo Chavez's death, Vice-President Nicolas Maduro called on Venezuelans to be "dignified inheritors of the giant man". "Let there be no weakness, no violence. Let there be no hate," he added. "In our hearts there should only be one sentiment: Love. Love, peace and discipline."

    Nicholas Green in Spain

    emails: Chavez fought his final election surely knowing that he was still battling with a serious case of cancer, but did not tell the electorate. This is a sad testament to a man who once fought for others but, in the end, could not relinquish a near-dictatorial control.


    Former US President Jimmy Carter says Mr Chavez "will be remembered for his bold assertion of autonomy and independence for Latin American governments".

    Luis Valencia from Maracaibo, Venezuela,

    emails: I'm on a business trip in China - Venezuela a strong ally - and the news has exploded here probably as much as back home. This is incredible from any point of view, despite the rumours. This will bring more uncertainty in the following days. RIP Chavez


    The US President, Barack Obama, has now released a statement. "At this challenging time of President Hugo Chavez's passing, the United States reaffirms its support for the Venezuelan people and its interest in developing a constructive relationship with the Venezuelan government," it says. "As Venezuela begins a new chapter in its history, the United States remains committed to policies that promote democratic principles, the rule of law, and respect for human rights."

    MP for Bradford West George Galloway

    tweets: Farewell Comandante Hugo Chavez champion of the poor the oppressed everywhere. Modern day Spartacus. Rest in Peace.


    More from Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff. She says the death of Hugo Chavez will leave a gap in "the history and in the struggles" of Latin America. "This death should fill all Latin and Central Americans with sadness," she adds. "Hugo Chavez was without doubt a leader committed to his country and to the development of the people of Latin America."

    2334: Channel 4's Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jonathan Rugman

    tweets: Hugo Chavez: neither as dangerous as his critics said he was; nor as benign as his supporters wanted to believe.

    Alia Ali from Toronto, Canada

    emails: Chavez is an inspiration to everyone fighting for justice, equality and improving the human condition in the world.

    Hugo Chavez's

    last tweet on 18 February: I still clung to Christ and trust in my doctors and nurses. Ever onward to victory! We will live and overcome! (translated)

    Daniel Hernandez of the LA Times

    tweets: Footage of women on sidewalks weeping openly over #Chavez on chavista channel Telesur, hiding their faces in, like, genuine pain.


    "That habit of impromptu policymaking was integral to Mr Chavez's style, right from the start of his 14 years in power," writes the BBC's Rob Plummer in an article examining the economic muddle left behind.


    The BBC's Stephen Sackur interviewed Chavez in 2010. Watch him speak about his socialist world vision.


    UK Foreign Secretary William Hague has offered his condolences to Mr Chavez's family and to the Venezuelan people. "I was saddened to learn of the death of President Hugo Chavez today. As president of Venezuela for 14 years he has left a lasting impression on the country and more widely."


    Jon Lee Anderson, of the New Yorker magazine, has written extensively on Venezuelan politics. He told the BBC's World Tonight programme that Hugo Chavez was a man who promised revolution, but was not able to deliver. "I was there a couple of months ago and focused my attentions this time on the sort of unfinished projects of Chavez which are legion. Here is a man with great intentions but without the managerial apparatus or expertise to follow through. He relied heavily on the Cubans - they were incapable of putting Humpty Dumpty back together again."

    2347: Sarah Rainsford BBC Havana correspondent

    tweets: Flag at half mast at Ven embassy in Havana, but still no official reaction from the govt here, which seems tardy....

    Laureano in London

    emails: Unlike many commenting in this forum I am actually a Venezuelan living in London, away from my beautiful country because of what this man has done to Venezuela. The only thing that saddens me about all this is that, much like Pinochet, he never paid for his crimes in a Venezuelan prison for all the suffering that he caused.


    The BBC News website has this profile of Vice-President Nicolas Maduro, A former bus driver and trade unionist, the moustachioed 50 year old is a staunch Chavez loyalist who was named by the president in October as his preferred successor.

    James Wand in Nottingham, UK,

    emails: Chavez held 15 elections in four years with independent international observers present every single time. He reduced unemployment and created strong economic growth. He supported the public sector and invested heavily in a country he believed in. That will be missed.

    2354: Sarah Grainger BBC Havana correspondent

    Chavez saw Fidel Castro as a mentor and a political father figure and Cuba has been consulted very heavily on how Venezuela handles the process of transition.

    Grabiela Rojas in Merida, Venezuela,

    emails: I was at work when we learnt the news. Immediately we were asked to go home and I already heard there is looting throughout the city. The situation seems a bit like collective paranoia but I'm afraid worse things are to come.

    Dennis Allard in Santa Monica, California,

    emails: Hugo Chavez, RIP. You were a hero to all those who believe in true democracy and an equitable society. The struggle to reach those goals was furthered by your leadership and victories in the democracy of Venezuela. You will be missed but you can be sure the struggle will continue in your foot steps. Such will be your lasting destiny.

    2358: Will Grant Mexico and Central America correspondent, BBC News

    The death of Hugo Chavez, the vanguard of what he called "21st Century Socialism" sends ripples not just through the Venezuelan people, but across Latin America and beyond. In particular, the impact of his loss will be felt most keenly in Cuba, Bolivia and Ecuador, his closest allies in the region. The updates on his health in recent days had seemingly been aimed at preparing the Venezuelan people for the worst, with each bulletin more serious than the last.

    2359: Will Grant Mexico and Central America correspondent, BBC News

    Now, Mr Chavez will take on iconic status as his revolution looks for a route forward without him, the man it was designed by and constructed around. But his millions of followers in Venezuela will take some comfort from the fact that it was not the failed coup in 2002 nor the repeated efforts at the ballot box, but rather ill-health - or for many of his devotees, the hand of God - who took Mr Chavez away from them.

    Mariella Cardenas

    tweets: I'm Venezuelan, and I'm 19 years old, Chavez won when I was 5. I don't know anything else. I know that he wasn't a dictator

    Jennifer Tejeda

    tweets: I'll remember him as a man who divided this great nation and died with the hands filled with the blood of many Venezuelans.


    Colombia's President, Juan Manuel Santos, has praised Mr Chavez's contribution to the ongoing peace talks between the Colombian government and the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc). "The best tribute we can pay to the memory of Hugo Chavez is to fulfil the dream that he shared with us - to reach an agreement to end the conflict and to see a peaceful Colombia. He said that was what Bolivar wanted. He was right," Mr Santos says.

    George in London

    emails: My wife is Venezuelan. I've been to Venezuela 12 times over the last five and a bit years. The rate of decline in that time has been incomprehensible, and has been noticeable with each visit. A country with the resources Venezuela is blessed with should not be in the position it is, and it did not used to be. Thankfully, looking next door, Colombia has turned itself around in less time than many people would have believed, so today we see the first shoots of hope for Venezuela, even if the short term uncertainty brings fear.


    Brazil's former President, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, has said he received the news of Hugo Chavez's death "with great sadness". "I was proud to have known and worked with him for the integration of Latin America and for a more just world."


    But Robert Menendez, chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, is more critical. "Hugo Chavez ruled Venezuela with an iron hand and his passing has left a political void that we hope will be filled peacefully and through a constitutional and democratic process, grounded in the Venezuelan constitution and adhering to the Inter-American Democratic Charter," he says in a statement.


    One of Hugo Chavez's daughters, 32-year-old Maria Gabriela, writes on Twitter: "I'm lost for words. Eternally, THANK YOU! Strength! We must follow his example. We must continue building the FATHERLAND! Farewell my daddy!"

    Edgar Rivas in Caracas , Venezuela

    emails: He will be remembered like Saddam Hussein - a horrible dictator who fights against the people who wanted to be happy. He will remembered like the most deadly guy in earth for making Venezuela a place of hate between families.


    Supporters of Hugo Chavez have been gathering near the Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, some shouting: "Long live Chavez! Long live Chavismo!" "I feel such big pain I can't even speak," Yamilina Barrios, a 39-year-old office worker, told the Associated Press. "He was the best thing the country had... I adore him. Let's hope the country calms down and we can continue the tasks he left us."


    Vice-President Nicolas Maduro has called on Venezuelans to convene in the capital's Bolivar Square, which is named after the country's 19th Century independence hero, Simon Bolivar.


    tweets: He died a great among the great, rest in peace great President Hugo Rafael Chavez Frias


    tweets: 15 years of wasted opportunities and lives. The only success of chavez was to stay in power. The country is in ruins.


    A group of masked men on motorcycles, some armed with pistols, have attacked about 40 students who had been demonstrating for more than a week near the Supreme Court to demand more information about Mr Chavez's health, according to the Associated Press. The assailants burned the students' tents and scattered their food supplies just minutes after the president's death was announced.


    Venezuela's Foreign Minister, Elias Jose Jaua Milano, says the country is in "total normality" following Hugo Chavez's death, according to the Reuters news agency.


    Mr Jaua adds that Mr Chavez's state funeral is scheduled to be held on Friday and that seven days of mourning have been declared.


    According to Mr Jaua, schools will also remain shut for seven days. He says a funeral procession will carry the body of Hugo Chavez to the Military Academy in Caracas on Wednesday. It should remain there until Friday to allow for his supporters to pay their respects. Mr Jaua said the official funeral for heads of state would take place on Friday, at 10:00 local time (14:30 GMT). Mr Jaua also called on Chavez supporters to wear clothes in the three colours of the Venezuelan flag to honour of the leader.

    Ludi Simpson in Caracas

    emails: In Caracas on holiday, Venezuelans friendly without exception. Safer and more buoyant feel than we were warned. Now in Sabana Grande district of Caracas, quiet on streets, neither fireworks nor demonstrations. I expect great sadness tomorrow, because the majority of people we have met acknowledge the government's success on housing and on food prices, investing oil money for development, though not for private businesses. Parks in Caracas centre have been cleaned up in past decade, and an anti-gun crime campaign (civilians carrying guns is illegal).

    Daniel Duquenal in San Felipe, Venezuela,

    emails: I will remember Hugo Chavez as the man who broke up my country in order to pursue his personal ambition. No matter what good he may have done, the sum of of all of his mistakes fatally tilts the scales. We are now left to pick up the pieces, with an economy which many compare to a post-war economy. And ahead a difficult election which has been set in a way that it will not resolve anything and perhaps make matters worse.


    The Hollywood actor Sean Penn has paid tribute to Hugo Chavez. "Today, the people of the United States lost a friend it never knew it had. And poor people around the world lost a champion. I lost a friend I was blessed to have." He also says Venezuela and its revolution "will endure under the proven leadership of Vice-President Maduro".


    The President of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, has been speaking on television. He called on Venezuelans to follow Mr Chavez's example and not to "fail him". "Chavez started it, but it's down to us to go ahead. If we are all Chavez, let's be like the Comandante. The president was an is an exceptional being for all of us," he added.

    Moseiltom de Souza in Brazil

    emails: Hugo Chavez will not be remembered as just another little dictator, as some political analysts have advocated. But time will give the real representation of him in the history of Venezuela and Latin America. He was elected by popular vote, but did things with an iron fist. He did not have a good political economy, but he was beloved by most Venezuelans.


    Russia's permanent representative to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, has told reporters in New York: "It's a tragedy. [Hugo Chavez] was a great politician."


    Roman Dobrokhotov, a Russian journalist and critic of the Kremlin, tweets: "Chavez waited long so that he would die the same day as Stalin."


    Venezuela's Foreign Minister, Elias Jose Jaua Milano, says Vice-President Nicolas Maduro will assume the presidency temporarily until an election is held in 30 days. Many had assumed that the head of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, would become interim president.

    Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro in Caracas (8 December 2012) Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro in December 2012

    According to Article 233 of Venezuela's constitution: "When there is an absolute absence of the president-elect before taking office, there shall be a new election by universal, direct and secret vote within the next 30 consecutive days. Pending the election and inauguration of the new president, the president of the National Assembly will assume responsibility for the presidency of the Republic."


    Article 233 adds: "If the absence of the president of the Republic occurs during the first four years of the constitutional period, there shall be a new election by universal, direct and secret vote within 30 consecutive days. Pending the election and inauguration of the new president, the executive vice-president will be responsible for the presidency of the Republic."


    In January, the Supreme Court said Mr Chavez's inauguration for his third term could be postponed to allow him more time to recover from emergency cancer surgery the previous month, despite warnings from the opposition of a destabilising "constitutional coup". Supreme Court President Luisa Estella Morales said it would be "absurd" to consider Mr Chavez's treatment as an unauthorised absence. She said Mr Chavez's re-election had guaranteed "continuity" in government. Vice-President Maduro was acting head of state in his absence.

    Andres Marquez

    tweets: I live in Venezuela; lost many friends in this corruption-choke-hold that the government has - He represented deception

    New York Congressman Jose E Serrano

    tweets: Hugo Chavez was a leader that understood the needs of the poor. He was committed to empowering the powerless. R.I.P. Mr. President.


    The leftist rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc), has paid tribute to the late Venezuelan leader. "Hugo Chavez occupies a place of honour in the history of Venezuela, next to Simon Bolivar and Ezequiel Zamora, pointing the way to independence, democracy and justice for their country, Latin America, the Caribbean and all oppressed people the world," a statement on the Farc's website said.


    Venezuela's Foreign Minister, Elias Jaua, has explained Mr Maduro's assumption of the presidency. "When there exists an absolute absence, the vice-president of the Republic assumes [the powers] of the president and an election will be called within the next 30 days," he tells the state TV news channel, Telesur. "It is the mandate that Comandante President Hugo Chavez gave us."


    Fernando Soto Rojas, a member of Mr Chavez's socialist United Socialist Party (PSUV), had earlier said that National Assembly president Diosdado Cabello should take power, adding that he supported Mr Maduro's as the PSUV's presidential election candidate.


    The BBC's Will Grant has been speaking to people in Mexico City about Mr Chavez. One man told him: "His legacy is his politics towards the poor. Latin American countries have to work a lot to help the poor people, but not with those political strategies. We think we have to work with all the countries in the world, we have to be more open with our economic policies. Chavez is the past."


    The government of Cuba, where Hugo Chavez was treated for cancer after being diagnosed, has declared three days of national mourning. In a statement read out on state television, it said Mr Chavez had "stood by Fidel [Castro] like a true son", referring to Cuba's former president, who stepped down in 2006 due to ill-health.

    0233: Irene Caselli BBC News, Caracas

    I am standing in Bolivar Square in downtown Caracas, surrounded by hundreds of Chavez supporters. People have been crying, hugging. They have been talking to me and say they feel like they have lost a father. They feel that they are part of a family and are proud of being Venezuelan.

    Supporters of Hugo Chavez in Bolvar Square in Caracas (5 March 2013) People mourn Hugo Chavez in Bolvar Square
    0236: Irene Caselli BBC News, Caracas

    There are, however, also some people who have welcomed Mr Chavez's passing. When the news was announced a few hours ago, I heard a quite a few fireworks in the part of the capital where I happened to be. There is a minority which says the president wrecked the country, and that he was an authoritarian figure.

    Jeannette Schael in Hampshire, UK

    emails: As a Venezuelan who has lived abroad for most of my life I have to give President Hugo Chavez credit for getting Venezuela noticed. People no longer give me a blank look when I say I am from Venezuela. Also, Venezuela has never received this level of high profile coverage before President Chavez.

    Jesus Ziegler

    tweets: I'll remember him as the man who divided a nation, made them poor & destroy a country for an idea far away from democracy


    A teary-eyed Bolivian President Evo Morales, one of the late Venezuelan leader's closest allies, has declared that "Chavez is more alive than ever". In a televised speech, he added: "Chavez will continue to be an inspiration for all peoples who fight for their liberation... Chavez will always be present in all the regions of the world and all social sectors."

    Evo Morales attends a ceremony at the Venezuelan embassy in La Paz (5 March 2013) Evo Morales attends a ceremony in honour of Hugo Chavez at the Venezuelan embassy in La Paz

    BBC Mundo's Vladimir Hernandez has spoken to some of the 200 people who have gathered outside the Venezuelan embassy in Argentina's capital, Buenos Aires, to mourn Mr Chavez. "It is a great loss. He was the father of the process of change in Latin America, which united the region," said a woman called Ivanna. A man named Manuel added: "Not only was he a leader to Venezuela, but to all of Latin America. He was the first one to stand up to the claims of United States in the region."

    Women sign a book of condolence at the Venezuelan embassy in Buenos Aires Women sign a book of condolence for Hugo Chavez at the Venezuelan embassy in Buenos Aires

    BBC Brasil has also been gauging reaction to Mr Chavez's death. "I think that now it will improve a little bit the freedom of the people from Venezuela but I think relations with Latin America will remain the same. He was a dictator, a pain in the neck, to be sincere - god forgive me but I didn't like him," one person said. Another added: "I think Venezuela will undergo a radical change - I hope for better, so that South America and the common market, Mercosul, can grow with greater unity. I think the vice-president, who will take over, can have a better relationship not only with Brazil but with the whole world."

    0311: Sarah Rainsford BBC News, Havana

    Ever since the announcement from Caracas, the streets of Havana have been eerily quiet. The government here has declared three days of mourning for the death of Hugo Chavez. All music and street entertainment has stopped. An official statement, read out on state television, hailed Hugo Chavez as a son of Cuba; it called him a courageous revolutionary - a leader this island admired and believed in. He was a true son, to Fidel Castro, the statement said, and for Venezuela, a true patriot.

    Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro in Havana in 1994 Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro in 1994
    0312: Sarah Rainsford BBC News, Havana

    Many Cubans agree with the government's statement, but there is concern here too. Mr Chavez stepped in, with an economic lifeline for Cuba when the Soviet Union fell apart. Venezuela now sends 100,000 barrels of cheap oil to Cuba, every day. If his party cannot win the presidential election without him, some Cubans worry that vital lifeline could be cut - and the island plunged back to the difficult days of the 1990s.

    Sylvia Delagarza from Texas

    emails: Hugo Chavez was my beloved hero, because he loved, respected and provided for the needs of all of his people, including the very poorest. The welfare of his people came first. He gave all of his people a copy of the constitution of Venezuela and warned them to never again allow a foreign country to take over their country and resources. Chavez was truly a follower of Simon Bolivar. God bless Hugo Chavez! May the revolution for equal rights and justice live on in Venezuela and in all of South America! Chavez united Venezuela and all of South America to stand together as one in protection of their lands and resources. United, the people of South America will surely stand!

    Patricia Vargas in Barquisimeto, Venezuela,

    emails: I feel 14 years of Chavez's government sent us back a good 20 years in almost every aspect of life. Do I feel sad about his death? I do feel sorry for his family, for his friends and for his followers. Rest in peace. I hope those that remain in power have respect for the constitution and for those who think different to them in this moments.

    Estefania Lovera M

    tweets: A chapter in Venezuela's history I hope we'll NEVER repeat. That's my thought as Venezuelan and future journalist.


    Venezuelan opposition leader Henrique Capriles has given a news conference in which he said he and Mr Chavez were "adversaries, never enemies" and that he was sending a message of "respect and responsibility".


    Mr Capriles said the government must now "act in strict accordance with their constitutional duties" and that the armed forces "should remain for all, because they belong to everyone".


    The opposition leader added that there are "thousands, maybe millions, of Venezuelans that are asking what will happen, they feel anxious and also fear.... They should have no fear and feel no anxiety because between us all we are going to guarantee peace that this dear fatherland deserves."

    Elmer in Adelaide, Australia,

    emails: I am Venezuelan, even though I am not currently living there, and this is one of the legacies left by Hugo Chavez: a Diaspora of Venezuelans everywhere around the world, looking for the opportunities denied in their own country. Yes, many people felt he was a beacon of hope, but reality shows that hope was filled with empty promises and lies. His most positive legacy? He made Venezuelans interested in politics, realizing the importance of becoming active participants in the political life of the country.


    These Venezuelans in Florida were among those not mourning the end of the Chavez era. One woman told the Associated Press: "We are not celebrating death. We are celebrating the opening of a new door, of hope and change."

    Venezuelans celebrate in Florida (5 March 2013)

    The British ambassador to Venezuela, Catherine Nettleton, said in a statement: "President Chavez was passionate about his country and his passing will be widely felt in Venezuela." She said the UK would continue to build mutual co-operation with Caracas.

    0350: Jonny Dymond Washington correspondent

    President Chavez had an antagonistic relationship with the US, allying with its enemies and working at times to confound its foreign policies. The White House statement does not express regret at President Chavez's passing but instead speaks of the "challenging time" that has come about.

    0355: Jonny Dymond Washington correspondent

    As Venezuela begins a new chapter in its history, the statement goes on, the United States remains committed to policies that promote democratic principles, the rule of law and respect for human rights.


    This new picture gallery shows scenes from Venezuela following the announcement that President Chavez had died.

    Supporters of Hugo Chavez in Caracas (5 March 2013) Mr Chavez had been battling cancer for more than a year and had travelled to Cuba for four operations. He had not been seen in public for many months.

    That concludes our live coverage of the reaction to the death of Hugo Chavez, but you can keep up to date with regular news updates throughout the night via our homepage. Thank-you for following developments on the BBC News website.


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