(NBC NEWS) -- Hundreds of Venezuelans, poured into the streets of the country's
capital, Caracas, to mourn President Hugo Chavez after learning of his
Chavez, 58, the socialist leader who ran Venezuela
for 14 years, lost his two-year battle with cancer, which was first
detected in his pelvic region in 2011.
"It's a moment of deep
pain," Vice President Nicolas Maduro said, as he announced the
Comandante's passing and urged the nation not to resort to expressions
The deceased leader's daughter, María Gabriela Chavez, tweeted to her followers:
"I don't have words. Eternally, THANK YOU! Strength! We must follow his
example. We must continue building our NATION! Always daddy of mine!"
A public funeral is scheduled for Chavez on Friday, followed by seven days of mourning.
-- some in tears, some chanting "Long live Chavez!" -- gathered near
the Miraflores presidential palace and outside the military hospital
where Chavez died, The Associated Press reported.
"I feel such big
pain I can't even speak," Yamilina Barrios, a 39-year-old office
worker, told the AP. "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."
"He was our father. 'Chavismo' will not end. We are
his people. We will continue to fight!" Nancy Jotiya, 56, in Caracas'
downtown Bolivar Square, told Reuters.
As the streets filled with
people and stores closed early, additional police were sent to monitor
the crowds. Reuters reported isolated violent incidents, including the
burning of tents used by students who had been protesting against
secrecy surrounding Chavez's condition.
The oil-financed social
policies implemented throughout his rule earned Chavez the support of
the poor but also disapproval from Venezuela's business community and
"At last!" shouted some women in an upscale neighborhood, according to Reuters.
Among those who made public remarks was Henrique Capriles Radonski, who faced Chavez in the nation's elections last October.
hurt for the feelings of pain of the deceased president's family, and
of his colleagues and many Venezuelans, our most heartfelt condolences,"
Capriles said. "This is not a moment to highlight what separates us. In
hours of anguish, families and a people, who are a great family, must
unite in prayer, in mediation. Not time of difference, time of union."
Capriles lost to Chavez in October, but the latter was not sworn in due to his illness.
Foreign Minister Elias Jaua said Tuesday that Maduro will be interim
president, and also run as the governing party candidate in elections
that will be called within 30 days. Jaua said it was Chavez's wish
that Maduro should be the socialist party candidate.
Venezuela's constitution, the executive vice president should be put in
charge when the president dies. The constitution, however, also
specifies that the speaker of the National Assembly, currently
Diosdado Cabello, should be in charge if a president can't be sworn
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