Hugo Chavez Is Dead

Categories: Venezuela
The last photo released of Chavez in the hospital last month.
After months of battling a recurring bout of cancer, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has died. His vice president, Nicolas Maduro, announced the news on Venezuelan television about a half-hour ago, at 4:30 p.m., CNN reports.

His death is likely to lead to political turmoil in a nation he's dominated for the past 14 years. The constitution calls for a new election in the next 30 days, but his government has already called on supporters to be "on war footing."
The news was greeted with a mix of emotions from Doral to Weston to Miami's other Venezuelan enclaves where many fled Chavez's regime. 

Vincente Pugliese, director of VEPPEX, an organization of Venezuelan exiles, says he's concerned about what Chavez's death will mean in the short term in his homeland.

"The fact that Chavez has died doesn't mean that his regime has disappeared or that his armed groups are gone," Pugliese says. 

Pugliese predicts a protracted conflict between Chavistas and reformers, and fears the military will use any conflict as an excuse to delay elections.

"Now we have see if they respect the Constitution, because they are already saying there are going to have five days of mourning," he says. "But the constitutional process has to get under way, which would put in charge the head of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello."

Chávez had battled cancer since June 2011 but seemed to get the better of the disease after a series of treatments in Cuba. He won re-election this past October, beating Henrique Capriles in the closest election since he took power in 1998.

But after the election, Chávez disappeared from public view, returning to Cuba for more treatment and missing his scheduled inauguration ceremony. He returned to Caracas last month but had been fighting a severe respiratory infection ever since.

Mourning their leader, Chavistas flooded the streets of Caracas after Maduro's announcement on television this afternoon, the New York Times reports. 

The struggle for power in the wake of his death is likely to be bruising. Chávez anointed Maduro as his successor, but he's less powerful than Cabello, the National Assembly's president. Capriles -- who united the opposition before losing in October -- is likely to wage a strong campaign for the presidency.

We'll update this post as more news breaks.

Update: Doral police have plans to close 41st Street between 79th and 87th Avenues to accomodate rallies or protests connected to Chavez's death, CBS4 reports. Doral's mayor, Luigi Boria (the first Venezuelan-born mayor in the U.S., incidentally), organized the plan as Chavez's health declined earlier this month.

News crews have already started flocking to Doral's Venezuelan hotspots, including El Arepazo -- a popular arepa joint -- for reaction:
via @rojasingrid's Twitter
News crews descend on Doral

Update 2: Our sister paper in Broward has compiled the Twitter reaction in Weston.  

Update 3: At least 300 people have gathered at El Arepazo 2 in Doral, drinking Polar, ordering arepas and waving Venezuelan flags. There were chants of "Ole! Ole! Ole! Se Fue! Se Fue! Se Fue!", and one little girl waved a flag while chanting "Fidel is next! Fidel is next!"

A huge media scrum has camped outside the restaurant, with at least a dozen media vans from CNN to Telemundo to every local stations camped out to film the party. 

In general, the mood has been celebratory but fairly restrained, in part because many know a tough, turbulent post-Chavez period lies ahead. 

via @JennyDazaaR's Twitter
The crowd outside El Arepazo 2

-- Staff writer Michael E. Miller contributed to this report

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Carlos Cnotez Rodriguez
Carlos Cnotez Rodriguez

whoa whoa whoaaaa.. ppl actually have JOBS here in miami? i thought every1 just had a grow house..welppp

drakemallard topcommenter

"One of these days, I'm going to look down at your grave and it's going to say, here lies Hugo Chávez, the biggest piece of crap that ever walked the face of the earth.

Mauricio Palacio
Mauricio Palacio

I guess the only ones missing him will be his family... R.I.P. anyway

Miami New Times
Miami New Times

George, this is Miami -- since when do you need an excuse?

George I'doccupyThat Owen
George I'doccupyThat Owen

Dearest Miami New Times, I am not Venezuelan... how do I use this as a reason to skip work tomorrow? You always have great advice. Thanks

Antonio Domenikos Divine
Antonio Domenikos Divine

"El socialismo es una filosofia del fracaso, el credo de la ignorancia, y el evangelio de la envidia, su virtud inherente es la distribucion equitativa de la miseria" - Winston Churchill

Victoria Mir
Victoria Mir

Great news for my Venezuelans friends!! Castro should be next!!

Xaviant Haze
Xaviant Haze

Now prepare for zionist illuminati control


@Xaviant Haze LOL wut? Talk about a non-sequitur. You do realize the illuminati don't really exist, right? Or let's just assume that a top-secret sect planning control of all the world governments is going to let in such luminaries as Rihanna. Oh and let's blame the Jews too, because... well... why not. o_O

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