During a press conference at 4:25 pm Vice-president Maduro confirmed the death President Hugo Chaves. In his statement which was made on Venezuelan TV Maduro, he blamed the U.S. for the cancer of the Venezuelan leader, claiming that the president suffered from the cancer of “enemies” and expelled two U.S. diplomats whom he accused of spying on the country’s military.
Following a lengthy introduction of numerous officials in attendance, Maduro said U.S. military attaché David Delmonaco will be expelled from the country for conspiring against the government and the armed forces. Greg Adams, spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, confirmed the attaché is Delmonaco, but had no immediate comment. “I’m sure we will be formulating some sort of response from Washington,” he said.
The government announced, leaving behind a bitterly divided nation in the grip of a political crisis, that grew more acute as he languished for weeks, silent and out of sight in hospitals, in Havana and Caracas.
“We’re after other forces that are also conspiring in this poisonous effort. They’re trying to create disruption. They have taken all possible measures to hurt our economy,” Maduro said. The Pentagon did not comment, though it confirmed the expulsion.
“We are aware of the allegations made by Venezuelan Vice President Maduro on state-run television in Caracas, and can confirm that our Air Attache… is en route back to the United States,” said Army Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale, a Pentagon spokesman.
The 58-year-old Chavez made a surprise homecoming two weeks ago, with none of the fanfare and celebration that accompanied previous returns from treatment in Havana. Last month after being treated for cancer in Cuba, but has not appeared in public since.
His general state of health continued to be very delicate,” Mr. Villegas said. “Today, there exists a worsening of the respiratory functions…. Right now, he has presented with a new and severe infection,” the minister added. Many Venezuelans have been demanding full details about his health. “The president had been receiving high-impact chemotherapy, along with other complementary treatments… but his general state of health is very delicate.”
Mr. Chavez, who had been in office for 14 years, is believed to have cancer in his pelvic area, but his exact illness has never been disclosed. He was re-elected for another six-year term, in October 2012, but the Supreme Court ruled that his swearing-in could be delayed, due to illness.
Chavez suffered multiple complications after the, December 11 surgery, including unexpected bleeding and an earlier severe respiratory infection that officials said was under control.
Nearly 58% of Venezuelans believed Chávez would recover while about 30% believed he would not return to power and 12.5% said they did not know what would happen. Meanwhile, 1% believed Chávez was never sick.
The vice president compared Chávez’s sickness to that of the former Palestinian Liberation Organization’s leader Yasser Arafat.
“We have no doubt that Commandant Chávez was attacked with this illness, we have not a single doubt,” Maduro said. “The established enemies of our land specifically tried to harm the health of our leader.”
Since 2011, Chávez has undergone three surgeries to remove cancerous tumors; the Venezuelan president reportedly discovered that he had cancer in June 2011, following a surgery to remove a pelvic abscess. In preparation for his third surgery in December 2012, Chávez acknowledged the severity of the operation as well as the possibility of not being able to continue his service as president, and named Vice President Nicolas Maduro as his successor.
Chávez has sold oil to Cuba—a longtime adversary of the United States—and resisted U.S. plans to stop narcotics trafficking in nearby Colombia. Chávez has threatened to stop supplying oil to the United States if another attempt to remove him from power should occur. He did, however, donate heating oil to help the victims of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita, which destroyed numerous fuel processing facilities.