Updated: 6:44 PM
Above: former Venezuela President Hugo Chavez (UN Photo/Marco Castro)
By the Caribbean Journal staff
Venezuela President Hugo Chavez died Tuesday after a long battle with cancer, the country’s government said.
Chavez, who had received much of his treatment in Cuba, had been said to be in “delicate condition” according to recent reports this weekend.
He had returned to Venezuela from Cuba in late February.
In a statement, Vice President Nicolas Maduro, who revealed the news, said he gave thanks “in eternal recognition” of the work of Chavez, urging Venezuelans to “to be together as one family and maintain discipline.”
His death leaves means Venezuela will likely hold a new election within 30 days, according to the country’s constitution.
That will pit Maduro against Opposition Leader Henrique Capriles Radonski, who lost Venezuela’s election in October 2012 to Chavez.
Chavez’ death could have significant consequences for the Caribbean, a region he supported with the PetroCaribe oil and development agreements that expanded beyond cheap fuel, from a music initiative in Haiti to infrastructure projects in Grenada.
It’s not yet clear what a Maduro or Capriles government would mean for those agreements.
In a statement, Haiti President Michel Martelly said he extended, “on behalf of the people of Haiti, my sincere condolences to the Venezuelan people after the death of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.”
The Organization of American States also issued a statement, with Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza expressing his condolences to the “government and people of Venezuela.”
“It is a time of great sorrow for Venezuelans and we stand with them, together with all the peoples of the region,” he said. “We are certain that Venezuelans will know to come together in difficult times like these and move in peace and democracy toward the future.”
The OAS said it will convene a special session of the Permanent Council in memory of Chavez.
Among CARICOM member states, Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, St Vincent and the Grenadines are all members of Chavez’ ALBA alliance, a grouping to which Haiti has also been growing steadily closer.